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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 19:19 GMT
Mountain deaths 'stun' community
Climbers Colin Riddiough, Paul Dick and John Plews who died
It is believed the climbers died of hypothermia
Colleagues and neighbours of three climbers who died in Spain's Sierra Nevada have expressed their shock.

Survivor Stephen Riddiough, 30, tried to get help for his father, Colin, 46, Paul Dick, 56, and John Plews, 30, after discovering them unconscious.

But when rescuers arrived they found the men, all from Teesside, dead in the snow hole they had dug in the side of Spain's highest peak, Mulhacen.

It is thought they succumbed to hypothermia in the freezing conditions.

All three dead men were from the Redcar area of Cleveland and Mr Riddiough and Mr Dick lived five doors apart in the quiet suburb of Brotton.

'Absolute tragedy'

Mr Riddiough was a member of Skelton and Brotton Parish Council, whose clerk Liz Sharpe paid tribute to "a smashing guy".

She said: "It is an absolute tragedy, it is a sad loss for everyone concerned.

"We are all stunned and we sent our condolences and sympathies to the families and it's a terrible thing to happen.

"He was a smashing guy and very well liked."

A neighbour of Mr Dick said the father-of-two worked in a supermarket in Redcar and was a keen Middlesbrough fan.

He said: "He was a lovely guy. It is such a shock for everyone in the area."

The mountaineers set out on Saturday but were caught in treacherous conditions, high on the south side of the mountain.

Hostile conditions

The Civil Guard spokesman said the men did not appear to be prepared for the severe conditions on the mountain, where temperatures can plunge to -20C (-4F).

While there had been no specific warnings on the day about the weather, there was a general winter warning to mountaineers about conditions.

He added that the group may have been caught out because they did not expect the weather to change so severely during the day.

The Sierra Nevada, which overlooks the sun-drenched coastline of Andalucia, includes some of the highest peaks and most hostile mountain conditions in Europe.

At 11,414ft, Mulhacen - where the bodies were found - is more than two-and-a-half times higher than Britain's tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.

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