Four children have been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after they fell through ice on a lake in Solihull as search operations continue amid fears two more could remain trapped.
Emergency services were called to the scene at Babbs Mill Park in Kingshurst, Solihull amid freezing temperatures and icy conditions at just after 2.30pm.
Eyewitnesses at the scene said the children had been playing near to the lake when two friends got into difficulty, prompting the others to help only to get into trouble themselves.
At a press conference on Sunday night emergency services confirmed four children were fighting for their lives in hospital and search efforts were continuing amid reports two further children were involved.
Emergency workers took to the lake on Sunday evening in an effort to find anyone still trapped
Emergency services are seen carrying equipment too and from the lake as they combat freezing temperatures
When asked whether any fatalities had been reported, West Midlands Ambulance Service tactical commander Cameron McVittie said there would be ‘no clinical updates’ issued on any of the children at this time.
Eyewitnesses described seeing responders ‘smashing through’ the ice on the lake’s surface as those first on the scene swam out into the water to rescue the nearest child.
At a press conference on Sunday night it was confirmed police officers and fellow emergency responders rushed into the lake and were subsequently able to pull four children from its surface.
West Midlands Ambulance Service tactical commander Cameron McVittie said all four children were ‘actively treated’ at the scene by specialist teams and were in a state of cardiac arrest when they exited the lake.
All four were rushed to hospital and were in a critical condition on arrival, having been given ‘advanced life support’ on the journey.
Two of the children were taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital while the other two were taken to Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. No further updates on their condition were given.
Among the emergency service vehicles to respond were five ambulances, four paramedic officers and five enhanced care teams. A trauma doctor and four air ambulance vehicles also rushed to the scene.
Superintendent Richard Harris, of West Midlands Police, told an emergency services press conference: ‘On behalf of West Midlands Police we understand how distressing this is for families and the wider community and we are doing everything we can support all those involved.’
One police officer has also been taken to hospital with a mild case of hypothermia, but is expected to make a full recovery.
The Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that search operations would continue overnight.
Richard Stanton, West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service area commander, said: ‘When the fire service arrived at the scene, we were made aware there were up to six people in the water.
‘After rescuing the four children, we have continued the search and rescue operation to confirm whether there were any more in the water.’
He added: ‘The specialist medical advice we have been given on the scene, given the temperature of the water, given the age of those who entered the water and the amount of time they have been in there, this would no longer be a search and rescue operation.’
A drone can be seen hovering above rescuers to shine a light for their search efforts
A huge number of paramedics, police officers and firefighters remain on scene as boats continue to enter and exit the lake
Emergency services were deployed after people reportedly fell through the frozen lake’s service
Emergency crews at Babbs Mill Lake, Kingshurst, Solihull, West Midlands
Huge numbers of emergency service vehicles and workers remained at the scene on Sunday evening
Diving teams have been pictured carrying oxygen tanks to search underneath the water
The fire service advised the public: ‘Stay away from open water, do not venture out onto the ice.’
Sophie, 23, a mental health support worker, said: ‘I got here with my friends at 2.45pm. There were a group of youngsters playing near the lake which was completely iced over.
‘Two of them had gone onto the lake and people were shouting at them that it wasn’t safe.
‘Then the ice cracked and the leg of one of the boys went in. The other three on the bank then went in to help and soon they were all in trouble.’
Describing the rescue efforts, Sophie said she saw four children being pulled from the icy water and transferred to waiting ambulances.
‘They stretchered them up the bank to the ambulances waiting. They were giving them CPR as they were moving.’
She added that divers are still searching the lake as one of the children is feared to still be trapped.
Rescue teams are using specialist equipment at the scene to safely search the lake into the night
Among the emergency workers to respond were specialist water teams from the Fire and Rescue service
Emergency services swarmed to a Solihull beauty spot amid a major incident this afternoon
There were at least 10 fire engines and 10 police cars parked on Collets Grove alone, the nearest street to the Lake.
About 30 people, mostly children, were out watching the scene unfold and taking in what had happened on Sunday evening.
Ellie Harvey, 29, a mother of two who works in one of three nearby primary schools as a lunchtime assistant, said: ‘I saw all the blue flashing lights and knew something awful had happened.
‘I understand they are all year five and year six primary school children.
‘I have heard there is also one of the police officers, one of the first responders, has also been taken to hospital in a bad way.
‘I think they were a group of friends. The lake was ice and it is very enticing for children.
‘I have a boy the same sort of age but luckily he doesn’t like playing out in the cold. There was ice on the lake but it wasn’t thick.
‘In some places the birds were still swimming and in others they were standing on ice.’
Stanley Busumani, 30, an Amazon worker who lives nearby, said: ‘Around 2.30pm there were suddenly a load of ambulances police and fire engines arriving all at once.
‘I have heard it is five kids. I have seen people sobbing down their phones and a lot of very upset people.
‘I have a five year old. This is a terrible thing to happen.’
A local church group was giving out hot drinks to the dozens of emergency responders at the scene.
Ananya Sandhu of the New Testament Church of God Kingshurst said: ‘I read about this in the neighbourhood chat and then we learnt there were children involved.
‘When we came down to offer our prayers we saw there were so many people involved in the search in freezing conditions so we went back to the church to fetch an urn and some hot drinks.
‘This is a tragedy for the community. We are very tight knit around here and our prayers go out to all those affected.’
At least two dozen emergency service workers remain at the scene. Photos appear to show at least two fire engines, six paramedic vehicles or ambulances and multiple police cars in attendance.
Police officers at the scene on Sunday night and being fitted with life jackets
Large emergency service boats have been pictured arriving at the scene as search and rescue efforts continue
Members of the Fire and Rescue Service could be seen responding to the ‘serious incident’ on Sunday evening
Members of West Midlands Police Force and West Midlands Fire Service respond to the ‘serious incident’ at a lake in Kingshurst
Pictures from the scene show dozens of emergency service vehicles in attendance
Members of the fire and rescue service are said to be using boats in order to access the lake
Emergency workers carrying flashlights and wearing life jackets were pictured at the scene shortly after 4pm on Sunday
Photos show rescuers in bright clothing out on the surface of the lake as they continue to search for anyone still trapped.
At least one drone has been deployed to shine a light over the lake for rescuers, who are working in boats with torches.
Meanwhile police officers have been seen carrying a large tarpaulin to and from the lake as they load up equipment needed by rescuers.
Diving equipment has also been taken to the lake, with specialist water rescue teams on hand to search underneath the lake’s surface.
It comes as the weather is set to worsen overnight, plunging well below freezing with more snow and ice to come.
Emergency services vehicles have been parked all the way down Fordbridge Road and onto the Stonebridge Crescent estate.
Eyewitnesses at the scene have seen emergency service boats being used at the lake as rescue efforts continue.
Rescue efforts are taking place amid freezing temperatures as Solihull hit -1C by early evening on Sunday.
A police cordon is in place around the lake as rescue efforts continue into the evening.
Local MP Saqib Bhatti said: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the whole community and I pray for all those that are affected. I am being kept updated as the situation develops.’
West Midlands Police said it was called to a ‘serious incident’ just before 3pm and those rescued so far ‘are believed to be in a critical condition.’ They asked anyone with any information or video footage to call 101.
West Midlands Fire Service and West Midlands Ambulance service also had a heavy presence at the scene and search and rescue efforts are ongoing.
West Midlands Fire Service confirmed that it was called to the scene at 2.36pm on Sunday.
Emergency services were called to the scene at 2.36pm on Sunday
The tragedy occurred in the middle of Babbs Mill Park in Solihull, Birmingham
West Midlands Police have been called to the scene at Babbs Mill Park in Kingshurst. File image
In a statement, the West Midlands Fire Service said: ‘Reports from the scene and videos on social media indicate that people had been playing on the ice on a pond and had fallen through.
‘Our specialist water rescue teams arrived and acted assertively to take control of the scene and carry out rescues using specialist equipment and entering the water.
‘Casualties have received medical support at the scene from both firefighters and ambulance personnel prior to being taken to nearby hospitals.
‘The incident is still a search and rescue operation, being led by West Midlands Fire Service.
‘We would ask people to allow emergency services at the scene to go about their work in a safe and effective way.’
Video from the scene shows dozens of 999 responders working at the lake, using bright lights to try and illuminate the scene.
West Midlands Fire Service previously said their Christmas Carol Concert at St Martin’s Church in Birmingham was cancelled ‘due to an ongoing incident’.
Babbs Mill Park is a local nature reserve with a lake, river, wildflower grasslands and woodlands.
The incident follows a day of travel disruption amidst heavy snow in many parts of the UK as the Troll of Trondheim arrives with temperatures of up to -10C.
There were Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice in place for much of Scotland, as well as parts of Wales and south-western England until 12pm today
On Sunday drivers abandoned their cars in the snow, with police telling motorists to stay off the roads following a ‘high number’ of crashes, with yellow warnings in place tonight into the morning.
The Met Office issued a freezing fog warning this morning as Britain faces a fortnight of snow and ice chaos in the run-up to Christmas with temperature lows of -12C (10F) forecast tonight – making Britain colder than Iceland.
Snow was seen in many parts of the country on Sunday morning, including The Cotswolds, Bristol, south Wales, Herefordshire, Cumbria and Sheffield, with a large band of heavy snow heading towards the south east of England this afternoon.
Lakes and rivers froze over across most of the country and on Sunday night up to six inches of snow could fall in London and Essex.
The Met Office issued a freezing fog warning this morning as Britain faces a fortnight of snow and ice chaos. Pictured, fog along the riverside in Caversham, Reading on Sunday
Drivers attempt to make their way through heavy snowfall in Stroud, Gloucestershire, with motorists warned to stay off the roads
A farmer herds sheep at Harperrig reservoir in West Lothian with a backdrop of snow-covered hills
Wild swimmer Sarah Warner embraces the cold as she goes for a swim in Harperrig reservoir in West Lothian
In Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds, resident Jane Webb told MailOnline that drivers had been stuck in the snow for more than an hour, with some choosing to abandon their cars on the road
The Met Office predicts a band of snow heading to Kent, Essex and London in the afternoon, with flurries across the country through the week.
More warnings have been issued across all England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for Sunday night into Monday morning, as ice, fog and snow continue to hit the country.
Six yellow weather warnings kicked in today – one for the north of Scotland for 24 hours from 12pm and another for most of London and some of south-east England covering 4pm on Sunday to 9am on Monday.
Other warnings for ice and fog were in place in west, north east and north west England, east Wales and Northern Ireland from 4pm until 11am on Monday.
This morning the national forecaster issued an urgent fog warning until 11am which could create slippery surfaces this morning.
The yellow alert covered south and central England, with London, the southeast, the southwest, and the Midlands told to prepare for poor visibility of just 50m in some places.
There were also Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice in place for much of Scotland, as well as parts of Wales and south-western England until 12pm today.
Crashes were reported along the M4 corridor, in Warwickshire and along the M54 with Brits urged not to drive in the snow, while trains in Kent have been delayed and the Sheffield Supertram part-suspended.
In Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds, resident Jane Webb told MailOnline that drivers had been stuck in the snow for more than an hour, with some choosing to abandon their cars on the road.
Meanwhile police in Cornwall are warning people not to travel as it is too dangerous.