An international relief and rescue effort is underway after it was revealed that six members of the public have been trapped inside MSN Messenger since the service was closed down in 2013.

The Disasters Emergency Committee has set up an emergency fundraising appeal after a student in London purchased a second-hand laptop and heard the tell-tale ‘bom-bom-bom’ sound shortly after opening it up for the first time.

Modern languages undergraduate Chloe Ay-Essell added: ‘I was aware that there would be a load of software on there as it still had Windows XP (which, may I add, knocks the shite out of Windows 8 on every level).’

‘However, about 30 seconds after I turned it on for the first time, I heard a three short chimes and a little box appeared telling me that someone was online and they were trying to chat with me.’

‘I looked closely at the box and it was just a massive lyric quote from a Slipknot song or something grungy and depressing, but when I clicked it and said ‘Hello’ I was astonished to get a reply back saying ‘Please help me.’

‘After sitting there in stunned silence for about 30 seconds a large pair of lips appeared and kissed the screen with a loud smooching noise to try and get my attention, and they repeated their plea for help.’

‘I changed my status to ‘Appear Offline’ to try and buy some time to think, but this didn’t make any difference as they just replied with ‘Don’t mug me off I know you’re still there.’

‘They added: ‘You’re listening to Agadoo by Black Lace aren’t you?’ and this made me leap back in horror – how the hell did they know exactly what I was listening to in Windows Media Player?’

‘Over the next 24 hours, I noticed five other people who were also trapped in there, and so I alerted the International Red Cross and they promised me that they would do everything possible to get them out.’

A spokesperson for the International Red Cross said: ‘It seems that these six people were using an infected copy of Minesweeper at the time that MSN Messenger closed down in 2013 – the virus has left them trapped in the software with no way of getting out.’

‘We are appealing to members of the public to leave the rescue mission to us and avoid loading up old versions to the software to try and help – we’ve already had one report of someone accidentally triggering an earthquake.’

‘The US Seismic Activity Centre has since confirmed that it was a nudge.’