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Entries in Hikers (4)

Monday
Mar192012

Belgian Hikers Pulled by Helicopter from Icelandic Glacier

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Two Belgian tourists attempting to climb the largest glacier in Europe were saved from possible freezing deaths in a dramatic helicopter rescue Saturday night after conditions atop Iceleand’s Vatnajökull glacier became unbearable.

One of the men was barely conscious when the Icelandic Coast Guard reached the two on the snow cap’s highest peak. The men, said to be experienced hikers, had sent up an emergency signal around 10 p.m. when wind gusts picked up and temperatures dropped to around -35 Celsius with the wind factor, according to the Iceland Review.

The men had gotten into trouble when their tent ripped, exposing them to the blizzard conditions.  The elements were so severe that even the rescuers suffered minor frostbite to their faces, Iceland Review reports.

The dramatic rescue, which the lead rescuer described as like a “clip from a movie,” was captured by a night vision camera.  Rescuers used night vision goggles to locate the two men, and then one rescuer was lowered down from the helicopter to pull the two men back up.

The hikers were said to be in good condition when they were found, apart from being cold.  The unconscious man regained full consciousness once he was in the helicopter, according to Iceland Review, which also reported that the helicopter landed safely in the town of Hornafjorour around 2 a.m.  No word was given on the climbers’ current condition.

Coast Guard officials credited the two men’s preparedness with saving their lives, reporting that the climbers had borrowed the emergency transmitter they ultimately used to call authorities from the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue before they left on their journey.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Hillary Clinton Optimistic Iran Will Release Hikers

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The United States has received word from public and private sources that Iran intends to release two American hikers who have been detained there for more than two years and convicted of spying, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday.

Clinton was optimistic when asked about recent delays that threaten their release, which some experts see as a power struggle between Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who promised their release in an interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry on Tuesday, and Iran’s Justice Ministry, which is more influenced by the country’s supreme leader.

“We continue to hope that the two young Americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian government,” Clinton told reporters in San Francisco, where she and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were meeting with their Australian counterparts.

She dismissed the delays, saying they’ve seen the same thing happen in other cases, as well.

“We have seen in the past some delays that have occurred after decisions were announced, so that at this point we are not at all concerned,” Clinton said, “because we have received word through a number of sources, publicly and privately, that the decision will be executed on and that we will see their return to their families.”

Clinton’s willingness to discuss the delicate subject of the hikers’ release -- which appeared to be subject to internal power plays not only within Iran but also among Iran’s neighbors, which may seek to exert regional influence -- was all the more striking because her spokesman was unwilling to even comment on the topic earlier in the week.

The country of Oman, which helped secure the release of a third hiker last year, sent a plane to Tehran this week and remains engaged in negotiations to free the two Americans. Iraqi leaders are also playing a role in negotiations, officials said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Swiss diplomats, who represent the United States in Tehran because it does not have an embassy there, are also involved.

Clinton refused, however, to guess why roadblocks have emerged.

“I’m not going to speculate on what the reasons are or what it might mean or might not mean, but I’m going to count on the Iranian government fulfilling the announcement that was made by the leadership of the country and hope that it can be expedited and we can see their release very soon,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul292011

Iran Hiker Sarah Shourd Hopes Fiance Is Released on Arrest Anniversary

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- During Sarah Shourd's days in an Iranian prison, she would look forward to the rare moments when she could meet with her fiance and fellow captive Shane Bauer and imagine their wedding together.

"It was sort of a fun topic to lift our spirits, what my dress would look like, what food we would serve," Shourd told ABC News.  "The wedding was our symbol of the day that this would finally be over.  I think of our wedding frequently as the day that I know it will really, really be over."

That wedding is still on hold as Bauer and their friend Josh Fattal remain in Iran's notorious Evin Prison.  This Sunday will mark the second anniversary of their arrest while hiking near the Iran-Iraq border.  The date also comes with the hope that Iran will finally keep its word and keep the July 31 trial date set by Iran's Revolutionary Court.

"The public prosecutor made a statement about the trial and he said that a final decision will be made on this date," Shourd said.  "We've never heard something like this from the public prosecutor before, so we have very high hopes.  This gives us hope that the trial will be the end of this nightmare."

The court date is the second anniversary of their arrest when the three were hiking on their way to a local tourist spot, the Ahmed Awa waterfall.  It is a day that is filled now with "what ifs" for Shourd.

"I've replayed those moments obsessively," said Shourd.  "When your life is struck by a wrecking ball, you go back and think what if I woke up later?  And what if it got hot, we turned around sooner?  What if I didn't look up at the ridge?  All the what ifs are endless and they torture you."

The trio had taken a break from their trek through Iraq's mountainous Kurdish area and were resting.

"Half way through our hike we took a break and had some lunch and had a nap," she recalled.  "I clearly remember that we were deciding whether to keep going or to turn around.  We were having a discussion about it and I remember I looked up on the ridge and saw a soldier standing there, but I didn't think anything of it.  I assumed he was a Kurdish police.

"He was gesturing over his head to come forward towards him," Shourd continued.  "We see this soldier gesturing towards us to walk up to him and that meant walking away from the waterfall area.  When we got to him he pointed to the ground.  He said Iran and then pointed to the trail we were on and said Iraq."

They didn't realize that it would be their last taste of freedom for a very long time.  The soldier turned out to be an Iranian border guard.  They were blindfolded, whisked away, and eventually ended up in Evin prison in Tehran under espionage charges.

Shourd, 32, was released on $500,000 bail on humanitarian grounds after 13 months of detainment, but Bauer and Fattal remain inside the prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun092011

Sarah Shourd: US Hikers In Iran Assaulted By Guards, Feared Execution

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The families of the American hikers jailed in Iran and former fellow detainee Sarah Shourd released a statement Thursday claiming Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were repeatedly assaulted and threatened in Tehran's Evin prison.

Until now, the families have been conservative in their criticism of the regime, fearing retaliation on Bauer and Fattal.

The families are in the midst of a hunger strike to protest the hikers' continued detention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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