Six specialist search-and-rescue operatives from the UK, who set out for Southern Italy more than two weeks ago, have been found ‘weak but in good spirits’ in a Tesco car park in Leicester. ‘All I remember is, we turned off the M1 to get petrol but got sucked into some sort of vortex of inner ring roads and finally ran out of petrol here at the epicentre,’ said a dazed team leader.
A Swiss team had arrived earlier at the Italian base camp. ‘Of course, we didn’t have so far to travel,’ they said politely and modestly with the slightest hint of sarcasm. Realising something had gone wrong, the Swiss then retraced their steps to Switzerland, caught a plane to Heathrow and painstakingly searched every town until they hit lucky and found the UK team in Leicester, locked in their car with a dozen excess parking tickets on the windscreen and a nasty dent in the rear bumper. One of them had tried to write SOS backwards on the inside of the steamed-up window; but failed.
The British team were taken by ambulance to the nearby Leicester Royal Infirmary for a check-up and thorough de-briefing. However, three days later, the ambulance has still not reached the hospital, amid reports that it was last seen trying to reverse its way out of a cul-de-sac into a blocked-off side street. The last recorded communication from the ambulance crew was the Standard Leicester Distress Message received at 09:51 hours: 'Bollards'.