LONDON — A man rescued after becoming trapped for more than 50 hours in one of Britain’s deepest caves is said to be “doing remarkably well,” relieved emergency responders said Monday, following a major two-day rescue effort involving almost 250 volunteers.
Police were alerted to the incident after another caver raised the alarm, according to the BBC.
The vast Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave network, commonly referred to as OFD, is popular with cavers and is the second-longest in Wales, as well as one of Britain’s deepest, with a deepest point of more than 900 feet, according to the South Wales Caving Club.
Rescuers from across the country joined forces with other cavers and medical experts to help free the man, who was moved on a stretcher by teams who took turns to transport him to the surface. Dramatic photos taken inside the cave show rescuers lifting the man to safety, while balancing on rocky ledges with fast-flowing rivers.
“Its approx. 61km of passages provide everything from huge chambers, beautiful formations, to yawning chasms and thundering river passages,” the club said in an online description of the cave system.
Rescuer Peter Francis said the caver was “experienced and fit” but “just incredibly unlucky. He put his foot in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The man was successfully carried to the surface on Monday evening local time and is recovering from his 53-hour ordeal in a hospital in Swansea. The Guardian and other British outlets reported that the man’s injuries include a broken jaw, a broken leg and spinal injuries.
Guidance on the South Wales Caving Club’s website alerts those hoping to explore the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu caves, which can only be accessed once a permit is granted, to potential flood risks.
“A journey down the Mainstream is long and cold and wet, so go prepared,” the site reads.
Some involved in the precarious rescue effort helped rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from flooded cave tunnels in northern Thailand in the summer of 2018.
That rescue mission was watched around the world as the Thai navy and emergency crews worked to free the group, which was trapped for more than two weeks.
A film released last month titled “The Rescue” is the entertainment industry’s latest attempt to detail the epic underground struggle and how rescue teams united to save the group.