Major rescue effort for researcher injured in Alps cave

Experts must negotiate labyrinth of vertical shafts and bottlenecks in cave system

Emergency teams attempt to rescue an injured man trapped after a rock fall in a 1,000 metre-deep cave in southern Germany. The operation involving more than 100 helpers from several countries could take days or weeks to bring him out. Video: Reuters


Rescuers are working to rescue a man stuck deep inside caves in the German Alps after he was injured by falling rocks.

Police said the rescue effort could take days as experts negotiate a tricky labyrinth of vertical shafts and bottlenecks in the cave system.

A four-member rescue team reached the 52-year-old German cave researcher early today inside the Riesending cave system, near Berchtesgaden in Germany’s southeastern corner, police said.

The man had suffered head and upper body injuries a day earlier. One of his two uninjured companions made a 12-hour climb back to the cave entrance to alert authorities, while the other stayed with him.

The injured man is nearly 1,000m (3,300 ft) underground “in one of the most difficult caves in Europe”, mountain rescue official Klemens Reindl told n-tv television.

“We have shafts that go straight down 350m where you have to rappel down and climb back up on a rope,” he said.

The cave system has tight spots where only a slim person can squeeze through, and explorers also have to contend with water, the mountain rescue service said.

Rescuers laid a telephone line several hundred metres deep to help the rescue effort, while others set up camps inside the cave system on the border with Austria. They were working in several small teams of up to four people each.

Some 52 cave rescue specialists from Bavaria and another 28 from Austria were at the scene.

Press Association