Over 60 teenagers involved in major rescue operation in the Mourne Mountains

The British army cadets reportedly got into difficulty while camping in the mountains

Over 60 teenagers involved in major rescue operation in the Mourne Mountains

Mourne Mountains

Updated 15:50

More than 60 British Army cadets are now safe following a major rescue operation in the Mourne Mountains in County Down.

Up to 16 teenagers have been treated for the effects of hypothermia following the rescue.

Coastguard, ambulance and helicopter crews were dispatched to the scene after cadets - mainly aged between 12 and 17 - became stranded.

It is understood the group had been camping in the mountains before getting into difficulty. 

Weather conditions in the area have been very poor over recent days and visibility is currently below 20 metres.

A major medical emergency was declared just before lunchtime.

All members of the group have been accounted for - however a number of people were treated exposure.

In addition to those treated for hypothermia, others have sustained lower leg injuries. 

Rescue teams from Newcastle, Bangor and Kilkeel are supporting the Irish and UK coastguard on scene.

Two of the helicopters were grounded due to the poor weather conditions, however they were "prepared to support casualty evacuation as further information comes in.

UK coastguard spokesperson Liam Colquhoun said the operation was not easy:

"Unfortunately we have had to stand two of the aircraft down due to the fog," he said. "Visibility is down to about 20 metres now."

"The Mourne Mountain rescue team along with coastguard rescue teams will be going up to carry the other ones down."

The cadets from Middlesbrough were at their annual camp in County Down, carrying out adventure training and cultural visits.

The local Ulster Unionist councillor for the area Jill Macauley described conditions as "terrible" and posted pictures that showed sodden roads and reduced visibility.