Family found safe after massive woodland search
A massive Coastguard search was launched last night to find a family of five who had become lost in a woods in Co Clare.
The family - made up of a mother and father and three young children - was eventually found safe and well around midnight last night after hours of searching.
Three units of the Coastguard were dispatched to Cratloe woods, located around 10 km from Limerick city, as well as a Coastguard helicopter in the search for the missing family.
The children are understood to have been aged four, seven and 10.
The alarm was raised around 9.30pm when the father rang the emergency services to say they could not find their way out of the dense forest.
A Coastguard spokesperson said the rescue teams were able to pinpoint the stricken family's exact location using GPS co-ordinates on the mobile phone used to make the emergency call.
The family were believed to be in area near Woodcock Hill, but the Coastguard could not confirm the exact location last night.
The Coastguard helicopter was dispatched from Shannon to assist in the search. However, the family could not be found at the location when the helicopter arrived at the scene.
The spokesperson said the father had warned the emergency services that he had just 4pc of battery remaining on his phone when he made the emergency call.
"When he was on the phone he said the phone was about to die. He said he was going to turn it off to preserve some battery. We told him to stay where he was but when the helicopter got there, we couldn't find them anywhere," the spokesperson revealed.
Separate units of the Coastguard from Killaloe, Kilkee and Doolin - with teams of seven search and rescue personnel - were all notified and took part in the search last night.
"They were all healthy when the call came in at 9.30pm but it was a miserable night to be stuck out there," said the spokesperson after the family was found.
"They were complaining that they were cold and wet but weren't injured in any way."
It is understood the family had been out walking in the area and had become disorientated. At one point the Coastguard said the helicopter was going to have to return to its base in Shannon to refuel. However, the family was located at around midnight.
"We can confirm they were all safe and well when found by the Killaloe unit. They were taken back to the base in Kilaloe," another Coastguard spokesperson said.