A HOMELESS woman was found suffering from hypothermia after living under a bridge for four days and surviving on canal water.

999 teams including mountain rescue, air ambulance and firefighters were called to the Swinden Aqueduct, near Cravendale Avenue in Nelson, on Saturday evening.

Passers-by raised the alarm at around 5.15pm when the middle-aged woman was found to be unconscious.

The woman, who has not been named, was taking shelter under the bridge and sleeping rough.

According to emergency services teams, she had not eaten anything for three of the four days she had spent below the aqueduct that crosses the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

And they said she had been drinking water from the canal to survive.

They believe a lack of nutrients caused her to pass out several hours before she was found.

Graham Daley, team leader of the Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, said: “She was very poorly and in a bad way.

“The paramedics stablised her and we attached her to a special type of stretcher which is like a tube that she was then secured into.

“We then had to sort of drag her up the banking and put her in the ambulance.”

The rescue took around an hour and the woman was taken to Blackburn Royal Hospital.

The mountain rescue team, the North West Ambulance and two fire engines from Nelson were called.

When they arrived, the woman was conscious and could speak but was suffering from the effects of the cold weather.

Due to her position at the bottom of steep banking, the paramedics, who were first on the scene, could not safely carry her to the ambulance which was parked on higher ground.

The mountain rescue service and the fire brigade were called in to help.

Mr Daley said: “She was such a lovely woman and kept thanking us for our help, even though she was in such a poorly state.

“It was really sad to see, especially at this time of year when you hope that everyone is with people and being looked after.

“We wish her all the best.”