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MOUNTAIN TRAGEDY

Two hikers lost in weekend storms found dead in Castellón

Third missing man survives to lead emergency services to his companions

The Tinença de Benifassà highway in northern Castellón, the area where the hikers went missing.

A helicopter search team on Sunday located three walkers – two women and a man – who had been lost since Saturday night in a mountainous area of Castellón, in the Valencia region. The three became trapped in the Tinença de Benifassà area following high winds, low temperatures and snow. The two women died as a result of their conditions, according to the local authorities, while the man survived the ordeal and guided the emergency services to the location of his two companions’ bodies.

The regional authority reported that the air rescue team located the man at around 3pm on Sunday. He was said to be in good health, but showing some symptoms of hypothermia. He took the rescue teams to the location of the two victims, who were near a partially collapsed country house.

The three told the emergency services that they were not aware exactly where they were, but that they were “suffering from the cold”

Heavy snowfall in the area and the difficult terrain meant that the rescue teams took another four hours to reach the victims. Once there, they were only able to certify the deaths of the two women.

The man, who was found accompanied by his dog, is now being treated in the Castellón General Hospital. One of the victims was a physiotherapist at the hospital. According to regional sources, the three were aged between 45 and 55.

The last contact from the three walkers was at 11.30pm on Saturday night, when they called the 112 emergency line. They reported that they had set out that morning to complete the so-called “seven village route,” through a natural park in the north of Castellón, but had got lost.

The three told the emergency services that they were not aware exactly where they were, but that they were “suffering from the cold” because of the extreme conditions that spread through much of Spain on Saturday.

In the early hours of Sunday, a mountain rescue team arrived in the area but was unable to locate the walkers

The trio later lost contact with emergency services, either because of a lack of cellphone coverage or because their phones ran out of battery.

In the early hours of Sunday, a mountain rescue team arrived in the area but was unable to locate the walkers. The extreme weather conditions meant that the search could not continue.

Later on that morning, two helicopters took up the search, along with a second mountain rescue unit, two fire crews, a dog team and three emergency snow brigades.

Tinença de Benifassà is an area of high ecological value, but its villages have been left practically uninhabited over recent years. The area has seen more activity recently thanks to rural tourism and its attraction for walkers.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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