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40 hikers rescued in Kentucky

WHITESBURG, Ky. — More than three dozen Pennsylvania college students spending spring break in Kentucky on a mission trip were safe Friday after becoming lost for hours when a mountain hike unexpectedly stretched into the night, officials said Friday.

Rescuers were able to find them — hungry and cold — after an hours-long effort in rough terrain and freezing temperatures.

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Most of the hikers were seen in the emergency room at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Whitesburg, with one woman admitted and listed in good condition, spokeswoman Dena Sparkman said Friday.

The few who declined to be seen at the hospital ‘‘were like, ‘feed me and we’re good,’ ’’ Sparkman said.

‘‘I think the best medicine we gave them was chicken soup,’’ he said.

The group was made up of 37 students and three staff members from La Salle University on an annual mission trip called Project Appalachia, said John Caroulis, spokesman for the Philadelphia school.

Caroulis said the group was helping build houses in Harlan, about a half-hour from Whitesburg. They had gone on a hiking excursion that is made every year on the mission trip.

Rescuers said the group got disoriented when it got dark while they were on a five-mile hike near Bad Branch Falls, an area on the Bad Branch Nature Preserve.

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