A major incident has been declared on a UK mountain range with more than 50 Army cadets and leaders ‘experiencing difficulties’ after ‘wild weather’.
Emergency services reported that 16 children – aged between 12 and 17 – are suffering from serious hypothermia and leg injuries after extreme weather hit the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.
Initial reports from the Coastguard indicated that as many as 70 people may have got into difficulty.
The youths, from Middlesbrough, were reportedly carrying out adventure training as part of their camp.
A Mourne Mountain Rescue spokesman said: “Weather has caught them out.”
According to the Ministry of Defence, 43 young people and 10 leaders were in the group.
The coastguard said it is understood that all members of the group have now been accounted for.
A total of five walkers suffered ankle injuries and another four were treated for exposure to the elements.
The mountain rescue team said: “At the minute there is no one in difficulty because they are all being looked after.
“At the minute it is nothing out of the ordinary.”
The Mournes are a scenic range south of Belfast which is extremely popular with walkers.
The rescue team added: “Everything is under control and within normal team procedure.
“At present the members of the group are being guided by the team to nearby road access.
“NIAS (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service) are in attendance to provide any medical support required.”
Newcastle, Bangor and Kilkeel Coastguard Rescue Teams, and the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopters based at Caernarfon and Prestwick, were on scene.
Also attending were the Irish Coastguard Rescue 116 helicopter, Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and ambulance service.
An MoD spokesman said: “We are exceptionally grateful for their assistance.”
South Down SDLP councillor Colin McGrath tweeted that ongoing helicopter, coastguard, medical and ambulance responses are visible.
He wrote: “Major emergency incident in the Mournes with helicopter, coastguard, medical and ambulance responding.
“Please God all will be ok.”
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said a number of patients will be taken to hospital.
The UK Coastguard said the PSNI and ambulance service contacted them just before midday requesting assistance after receiving “several reports that a large number of people were in difficulty after being caught out in inclement weather”.
According to local media, the weather was “wild” with rain and flooding on the roads.