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Mourne Mountains: Two walkers die in separate falls

Mourne Mountains: Two walkers die in separate falls

The Mournes are Northern Ireland's highest mountains
Two men have died after separate falls while walking in the Mourne Mountains in County Down, police have said.The first victim fell on Wee Binnian mountain shortly before midday on Sunday. The second man fell about an hour later while walking on Slieve Commedagh. The police and other emergency services were called to both incidents but the men were pronounced dead at the scene.A third man fell in the Mournes at about 14:30 GMT but he was rescued.He sustained a suspected broken ankle.
'Strong winds'
Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said one of the victims was from Camlough, County Armagh, and that there was "utter shock" in the community. Walkers who were on the Mournes said they attempted rescues after hearing cries for help, but were stopped by poor weather.Mark Patience, from Larne, County Antrim, was out walking with a group on the Mournes when they heard someone in trouble."We heard shouts coming from Commedagh direction, so three of our group decided to look and see", he told BBC News NI.
The Mourne Mountains are a popular attraction for hill walkers
"They headed towards the wall but they couldn't see anything as the cloud and fog was so low and the shouts had died down."Mr Patience said the group had changed their planned route repeatedly because of strong winds and poor conditions. He added that his walking group were "devastated" by the news."Two deaths in one day is so sad. The weather in the Mournes can change very quickly. People need to be careful".
Skip Twitter post by @PSNIAirSupport
A tough and challenging day in the Mournes as Police 46, @PSNINMDown and other emergency services responded to 3 separate incidents. In strong winds we managed to airlift one male out but sadly the two others had died. Our thoughts are with their loved ones. Sgt A pic.twitter.com/iGnmwvKgqN— PSNI Air Support (@PSNIAirSupport) January 13, 2019
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End of Twitter post by @PSNIAirSupport
Paul Currie from Belfast, who was walking on the Mournes with his family on Sunday, described the wind as "insane".He told BBC News NI that himself and other walkers were searching the mountains after hearing cries for help, but said the calls soon died down."Many people searched and did their best" he said. "I have never seen so many people come together to help without taking into account the dangers they were putting themselves in."I found it really upsetting when hearing the news. I just really wish we could have found them".
Veronica McCann, president of the Wee Binnian Walkers group, said the incidents were "an extreme tragedy"
Veronica McCann, presidents of the Wee Binnian Walkers group, told BBC News NI that conditions on the mountains can "change in a minute".She said she was on the Mournes on Sunday and, despite not being at a high elevation, had to "cling on" because of the wind."I had to use my sticks, I was really conscious of that wind and had to protect myself," she said.She added that the incidents on Sunday were "an extreme tragedy".
'Devastated'
Earlier, on Sunday afternoon, police had urged members of the public to "exercise extreme caution due to strong winds" after it had responded to the three separate falls. Insp Frances McCullough issued an appeal to "anyone thinking of venturing out for a walk on the mountains this afternoon, or indeed at any time, to think carefully before they head out".
Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said one of the the victims came from the Camlough area and that the community was "devastated".He said that people in south Armagh would "be there for this locally bereaved family". SDLP MLA Sinead Bradley described the news of the two Mournes deaths as "tragic"."My thoughts are with those families who are receiving such devastating news," she said."Thoughts are also with the emergency services personnel who attended in the hope of a rescue attempt."
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