Highlands & Islands

Scotland's rescuers dealt with more fatalities

Cliseam. Pic: Iain Maclean
Image caption Mountain rescue teams dealt with a rise in fatalities last year

Rescue teams dealt with more fatalities last year than in 2008, according to statistics gathered by the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland (MRCofS).

Deaths among walkers and climbers rose from 20 to 27 and non-mountaineering fatalities, which include vulnerable people, increased from 37 to 58.

MRCofS chairman Alfie Ingram said suicides and older walkers falling ill were key factors behind the rise.

Mountain fatalities included three men killed in an avalanche near Glencoe.

According to the figures, Scottish rescue teams dealt with 558 call outs.

The committee's membership includes 28 mountain rescue teams and other organisations such as the RAF, Royal Navy, Search and Rescue Dog Association and Scottish Cave Rescue.

Its annual statistics are divided into mountaineering incidents - those involving walkers and climbers - and non-mountaineering which are missing persons and going to the aid of vulnerable people.

The incidents were recorded across upland and lowland Scotland.

Mr Ingram said: "The biggest rise has been in non-mountaineering incidents.

"Teams are getting used more and more for dealing with suicides, which sadly have increased."

He added: "The mountaineering fatalities are not necessarily people hurting themselves, it includes people with medical problems.

"We are seeing a wee bit of a rise in the numbers of older people enjoying the hills and unfortunately some are not as fit as they think they are."

Those who died in the hills or while out walking included men aged 83 and 75.

Last year, teams were called out on 402 occasions to deal with mountaineering incidents.

There were 27 fatalities, 228 people injured and in total assisted 560 people.

Teams were called out 156 times on non-mountaineering incidents.

There were 58 fatalities, 30 people injured and 157 assisted in total.

January saw the deaths of three climbers in an avalanche on Buchaille Etive Mor, near Glencoe.

Two Northern Ireland brothers - Eamonn Murphy, 61, of Carrickfergus and John Murphy, 63, of Portrush - died with Brian Murray of Monifeith, Tayside.

The following month two men who spent a night in atrocious weather conditions in the Cairngorms were found safe and well.

The girlfriend of one of the pair sent them a text urging them to dig a snow hole.

Chef Marcus Scott, 29, and a 22-year-old from Inverness did not manage to excavate a snow hole, but found shelter from the wind behind a rock.

Mountain rescue teams, search dogs and the RAF were involved in searches for the pair in the Highlands.

February also featured a hoax call-out after a climber stamped the word "help" in snow on a mountainside.

The letters on Slioch in Wester Ross were large enough to be seen by people five miles away in Kinlochewe, who contacted the emergency services.

Paul Manchester, 47, from Stalybridge, Cheshire, was later fined £600 after admitting a breach of the peace.

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