‘Foolish’ boys get stuck in underground tunnels in middle of night

Four boys had to be rescued from Box Hill stone mines after getting lost in the underground tunnel complex.

Numerous services were involved in the rescue operation including Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS), Wiltshire Police, MoD Police, the Mendip caves rescue team and box mine owners Hanson UK.

They were called to the mine at around 1am on Thursday (November 19) when the group managed to find phone signal to call for help, after having been underground for hours.

It took over an hour for rescuers to locate their exact position, and it took until 4am for them to be brought to safety.

The incident has prompted local emergency services to warn about the dangers of exploring underground.

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Station Manager for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Richard Humphrey said: “Aside from the fact that this group shouldn’t have been out exploring anyway, due to the current lockdown restrictions, they didn’t know where they were going, they didn’t have the correct clothing or equipment, and they were incredibly fortunate that they were able to get sufficient phone signal to raise the alarm and then provide a What3Words reference to help us find them.

“We had a crew from Corsham fire station searching along all of the access points to the mine, trying to locate the group, with support from both Wiltshire Police and the MoD police.

“Once we had pinned down where they were, we were able to pass them water and blankets through one of the access points, but it was still a long walk through the tunnels by the specialist search & rescue team to find them and then lead them out safely.”

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A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: “This morning’s operation was the result of several agencies working together and we’d like to thank all of those involved who helped us bring this to a successful conclusion.

“Fortunately last night’s escapades for the four trapped males ended with their extraction, albeit some three hours after the initial call, but without injury to any of them – or their rescuers.

“Exploring mines and caves is dangerous at the best of times but to do so at night and without specialist knowledge or equipment is more than a little foolish. We’d urge anyone not to deliberately put themselves – or the emergency services and rescuers – in danger by staying home.”

Somerset Live Bath