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Saturday 30 August 2014

After 11 days injured caver is brought to surface from 3,200ft

Justin Huggler

Published 20/06/2014 | 02:30

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Caver Johann Westhauser is finally freed from the Bavarian mountains after 11 days

A CAVER who was seriously injured in a rock fall was brought up alive from Germany's deepest pothole yesterday after 11 days.

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The rescue operation involved 728 experts from five countries, supplied by helicopters flying around the clock.

Johann Westhauser was trapped 3,200ft underground in the Riesending cave complex under the Bavarian Alps. He was so badly hurt in a rock fall that many doubted he would emerge alive. The 52-year-old had to wait in temperatures of 3C (37F) as rescuers inched towards him.

Few rescue operations have ever gone as deep. The escape route passed through 1,000ft vertical shafts, twisting canyons, underground waterfalls and bottlenecks so tight an average man could barely squeeze through. It was so arduous that an experienced fellow caver exploring with Mr Westhauser took more than 10 hours to climb out and raise the alarm.

Specialist cave rescue teams joined the operation from Switzerland, Italy, Austria and even Croatia.

Mr Westhauser suffered a traumatic brain injury in the fall, but doctors decided he was stable enough to be moved. He is now safely in a clinic where his condition is being evaluated.

Mr Westhauser is an experienced caver. He was one of the first to explore the Riesending cave complex in 2002. However, the Bavarian government is planning to seal the entrance to the caves to avoid future accidents.

(© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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