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British hiker rescued twice in under 24 hours in northern Spain

The Local Spain
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British hiker rescued twice in under 24 hours in northern Spain
The British woman being rescued by emergency services. Photo: Cantabrian regional government.

Emergency services in Spain’s Cantabria have for the first time ever in the region’s history had to rescue the same hiker on two consecutive nights, a British woman who got lost twice within a space of 24 hours.

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Spanish emergency services in the northern region of Cantabria have rescued a 64-year-old British hiker twice, on two consecutive nights, on two different routes.

The British woman first got lost on Monday evening while hiking between Pembes and Mogrovejo, and then the following night Spanish rescue teams were called out again to rescue the same woman, who seemingly hadn't learned her lesson and was attempting a different route through Riofrío in the Vega de Liébana area.

The Cantabria 112 Emergency Response Centre first received a call on Monday evening, and a rescue team was mobilised that included 112 services, the fire brigade, the Guardia Civil's rural patrol, Red Cross workers, Spain's Special Mountain Intervention Rescue Group (GREIM), as well as members of a local Vega de Liébana group and individuals familiar with the terrain.

A total of 28 people and 18 vehicles participated in the first rescue operation, and the woman was found, uninjured but disorientated, in an area of weeds and overgrowth away from the main hiking route in Camaleño.

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Cantabrian emergency services posted about the first rescue on social media.

 

Yet the very next night, emergency services were once again mobilised to search for the same woman, this time reported lost on the Riofrío route. The Briton was eventually found, and a rescue team doctor attended to the woman on site to treat a possible wrist fracture and various bruises, before she was transferred to a nearby hospital. 

Local Cantabrian press report that on the first night, the woman had been hiking with another person who went ahead on the route but could not find the woman again.

A statement from emergency services later confirmed this: "The woman was walking accompanied by another person who went ahead to a point down the road, as they usually did, without the affected person reaching her. After not finishing the route in the estimated time, her companion went down to the vehicle to check if she had reached the end of the route, without finding her, so he noticed the 112 Emergency Response Centre at around 8:30 pm," 112 services said in a statement on their website. 

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The Guardia Civil described the event as an extraordinary but rather fortuitous event, and is investigating what happened. Local press reports suggest the rural force has already taken statements from the woman, the man who accompanied her, and witnesses who were also in the area.

Though the woman can consider herself incredibly lucky that local emergency services were able (and willing) to search for her on two consecutive nights, in many parts of Spain irresponsible or negligent behaviour whilst hiking can be punishable by fines.

In Asturias, for example, since 2010 wearing inappropriate clothing, ignoring weather forecasts or attempting routes not recommended by local authorities without being suitably equipped can be punishable fines of up to €5,000 for rescues that require the use of helicopters for transfers to hospital.

These sorts of fines are rare, however, as proving negligence can be difficult. Other regions that have charged hikers for rescues include Catalonia and the Basque Country.

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