Mother and daughters winched 100ft to safety by RAF Sea King helicopter after becoming trapped in rising flood water in North Yorkshire

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A mother and her two children had to be winched 100ft to safety by an RAF Sea King helicopter after being spotted clinging to a tree in a surging river in North Yorkshire.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the family had become trapped on a small island at Hackfall Woods, Grewelthorpe, on Sunday afternoon after being “caught unaware” as the River Ure swelled following heavy rainfall.

The woman and two girls managed to climb into a tree before a fire crew from Masham was dispatched to the scene, along with specialist water rescue teams from Richmond and Ripon at about 2.30pm.

A spokesman for the service said they installed safety lines up and downstream from the site, but requested assistance from the RAF because the conditions were too dangerous to carry out a rescue.

A helicopter was then scrambled from RAF Leconfield shortly after 3pm and the family were lifted to safety.

None of them was thought to be injured, but the spokesman said they had been lucky to escape.

“All emergency services worked in conjunction with the RAF to ensure that the incident was a success,” he said. “It could, however, have been a different story and could act as a warning about the dangers of rising river levels following a period of prolonged and heavy rainfall.

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service would like to remind the public that, while the river might look benign, it can quite quickly change.”