RESCUE teams called to save a woman stranded in the hills in sleet and hail ended up searching for 76 walkers.
An operation involving a helicopter from RAF Boulmer, a police helicopter, the ambulance service, officers from Northumbria Police, two mountain rescue teams and two specialist response teams from Hebburn was launched in the Cheviots, Northumberland.
Initial calls reported a female walker was exhausted and could not carry on, but as crews raced to the scene they were shocked to be updated first that there were three casualties and then that there were 76 people who needed locating.
Mark Silmon, team leader of North of Tyne Search and Rescue, said: “It was a surprise. I was speaking to RAF Kinloss and they said Boulmer had collected three people and the other seven in the group were making their way down. Then I got a call 10 minutes later saying in actual fact there were 76 people.
“I was surprised and concerned as to how we were going to find them all. Where do you start looking for 76 people scattered across the hills? It was an interesting day, put it that way. It could have been potentially quite serious given the number of people.”
About 60 rescuers were called on Sunday at about 12.30pm, although not all of these made it to the scene before the end of the operation.
North of Tyne Search and Rescue were joined by Northumberland National Park Search and Rescue Team, who both parked at Langleeford along with four ambulances and three police vehicles.