A massive police operation to rescue 21 people who were lost on the Troodos mountains as of Saturday afternoon came to a happy ending on Sunday morning when the 17 children and their four guides were declared safe and well although a volunteer and a police officer were injured in the rescue attempt.
According to police, at 6.15 on Saturday afternoon they were informed that a group of scouts aged 12 to 15 with four leaders had started at 2 pm to walk the nature trail from Troodos called ‘Scouts Monuments’, which leads to Kakopetria but due to snow in the area they had lost their bearings.
A huge search operation was launched including members of the police force from Limassol and Morphou, members of the disaster response unit (Emak), police helicopters, Civil Defence, the National Guard and the Forestry department in addition to volunteers.
The Scouts were found at around 9.45pm in a gorge in a remote area and were taken to safety by police helicopter to waiting ambulances in Troodos and at Larnaca airport, from where they were taken to Larnaca and Kyperounta hospitals for check ups before being released.
Σκηνή από την συντονισμένη επιχείρηση ανεύρεσης ομάδας 21 συνολικά ατόμων, προσκόπων (17 νεαρών ατόμων και 4 ενηλίκων) που χάθηκαν σε μονοπάτι της φύση στο Τρόοδος από την περιοχή Μνήματα των Επισκόπων προς Άγιο Νικόλαο της Στέγης. Ανταποκρίθηκε για βοήθεια στην ανεύρεση 6μελή ομάδα ειδικών διασώσεων της ΕΜΑΚ της Πυροσβεστικής Υπηρεσίας Κύπρου η οποία βρισκόταν σε πλήρη συντονισμό με την Αστυνομία. Η ειδική ομάδα διασώσεων συνέβαλε στην διάσωση 2 τραυματισμένων ατόμων που συμμετείχαν στην επιχείρηση διάσωσης καθώς επίσης και στον εντοπισμό και αεροδιακομηδή με ελικόπτερο της ΜΑΕΠ των 21 ατόμων που αγνοούνταν.
Posted by Πυροσβεστική Υπηρεσία Κύπρου – Cyprus Fire Service on Sunday, 3 February 2019
The police officer injured in the operation was taken to Nicosia general before being released.
A volunteer had to be rescued after he fell into the gorge injuring both of his legs and his side. The 45-year-old was kept in Nicosia general hospital for further care.
At 8 am on Sunday morning the remaining 15 people involved in the operation, and the Scout leaders were taken out of the area by police helicopter.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides described the rescue as one of the most difficult police operations ever. In view of this, the police set up a crisis room at Limassol headquarters to oversee the operation and co-operation between so many different services.
Bearing in mind the low temperatures overnight, Angelides said the police and other services in Troodos had taken with them food and blankets.
He said police had used GPS to locate the lost hikers and had been in constant contact with them but the inaccessibility of the area made it difficult for rescue crews to reach them. To do so they had to abandon their vehicles and proceed on foot.
He called on others undertaking such an outing to weigh up all the dangers before starting out.