Alpine rescuers used two helicopters and 50 rescuers to rescue the 99 schoolchildren from a mountainside in heavy rain in Vorarlberg, Austria
Dozens of terrified schoolchildren had to be airlifted off a mountain trail after their teacher chose a route so dangerous it was removed from official guidebooks.
Alpine rescuers from Vorarlberg, Austria, used two helicopters and 50 rescuers to rescue the 99 youths from a mountainside in heavy rain.
Angry officials are now blaming the adults accompanying the children for mistaking advice on the dangerous path.
In fact, the trail is so dangerous that it has been removed from official tourist guides.
Only when the 12 to 14-year-old students and eight adults were trapped on the alpine trail in Hirschegg on the Austrian-German border did a teacher call the police for help.
The group leader was shocked to realize that the exhausted children could neither go forward nor back to their hotel down in the valley.
Two students had already sustained injuries when they fell on the slippery and rocky trail. Police later said many of the children were not wearing appropriate footwear for the hike.
Klaus Drexel – spokesman for the Vorarlberg mountain rescue service – said it was just a stroke of luck that his team was able to use two helicopters for the rescue.
Drexel said: “We divided them into groups. The deteriorating weather conditions made this operation even more difficult.
“We take a very critical view of the latest developments on the Internet.
“Some trails that are listed and rated on various websites no longer exist.”
It later turned out that the teacher who planned the trip chose the route after reading a post on a hiking website.
It was described as an ideal opportunity for a “relaxed after-work stroll”.
But she didn’t realize that the post’s author was an experienced rock climber who had published nearly 300 hiking and climbing reports.
Drexel later warned, “Naively trusting what you read anywhere on the internet can put you in awkward situations.”
He appealed to tourists who are unsure about hiking trails to get advice from the local tourist office or from alpine clubs.
More than 50 mountain rescuers, firefighters and medical personnel were involved in the massive rescue.
Several students were reportedly suffering from hypothermia and some needed advice from local psychologists.
Vorarlberg police spokesman Wolfgang Duer said: “Our teams have focused on getting the students down to the valley as quickly as possible.
“The emergency call was made in the late afternoon and it was getting dark quickly.”
It is unclear whether the school has to pay for the rescue.
The local police have lodged a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office in Feldkirch.
In recent years, Austrian authorities have intensified their attempts to charge tourists for complex rescue operations.
There have been numerous instances where unwary vacationers have been escorted to safety, having opted for challenging hiking trails, wearing only flip-flops or trainers.
Local rescue services warn of the dangers of sudden weather changes such as sudden downpours, thunderstorms and heavy snowfall all year round.
Andreas Haid, mayor of the district town of Mitterberg, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to check the quality of hiking reports on the internet.
Haid said: “There are more and more people who act completely irresponsibly by putting such texts online.”
The Vorarlberg police pointed out that the hiking trail chosen by the German group was anything but easy.
The police said: “The narrow Heuberggratweg has climbing passages. Inexperienced people should not take it.
“That’s why the local tourist office decided a while ago to remove it from their maps.”
The hiking group – from Ludwigshafen across the German border – started in Schöntal in Vorarlberg’s Kleinwalsertal.
They planned to take the Heuberggrat to reach the 6,529-foot summit of the Walmendingerhorn.
Cornelia Schwartz is chairwoman of an association of teachers in Rhineland-Palatinate.
She defended the teacher over her decision to take the large group on the hike.
Schwartz argued that teachers were under a lot of pressure to create an interesting and exciting variety of activities for their classes during their trips abroad.
She added that many teachers would shy away from hiring a local guide due to budget constraints.
Thomas Wanner from the Austrian Alpine Club said the school would have to face a hefty bill if they didn’t take care of special insurance.
Wanner explained: “To be rescued by helicopter costs at least between 3,000 and 5,000 euros.”
Vorarlberg is one of the nine federal states of Austria.
The small mountain region is located in the very west of the Central European country.
It borders on Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany.
Vorarlberg is one of the top destinations in Austria for ski holidaymakers from all over the world as well as for hikers and mountain bikers in summer.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/dozens-children-airlifted-mountain-hiking-27189166 Dozens of children thrown off mountain trail after teacher loses them - World News