TWO women lost out walking in the snow in the Morella area of Castellón have been found frozen to death, but their male companion was rescued alive and taken to hospital with hypothermia.
The group called the emergency 112 hotline at 23.30hrs on Saturday night, saying they had set off on the so-called Ruta de set pobles ('seven village route') in the Tinença de Benifassà mountain area, and were lost.
They did not know where they were, but believed they 'may be near the village of Castell de Cabres' and were extremely cold because of the wind and snow.
Rescue services lost contact with them afterwards, believed to be because their mobile phones had run out of battery or they were in an area with no signal.
Three snow-ploughs set off to get to Castell de Cabres, which was completely snowed in, but after the walkers had not been found by the early hours, a mountain rescue team was sent out.
The extreme weather and the dark meant they were unable to continue the search, which was restarted at first light yesterday (Sunday).
A rescue helicopter, two fire brigades, a Civil Protection squad canine unit, three emergency snow-removal teams and two mountain rescue brigades were drafted in, along with the Local Police and Guardia Civil.
The man was found at 15.45hrs yesterday, 30 minutes into a trek on skis across the mountain in which the emergency services had only managed to cover about 400 metres, and was able to help the rescue teams locate the two women.
They were traced at around 16.15hrs, half an hour and only 400 metres later, but were found to have died of cold.
The surviving walker was admitted to Castellón General Hospital.
Rescuers said the two women, believed to be in their mid to late 40s, were about four kilometres from Castell de Cabres, somewhere between there and the next village of Vallibona.