Caver surfaces after marathon rescue

 t After medical checks at the surface, Johann Westhauser was carried to a helicopter and airlifted to hospitalAn injured German caver trapped 1,000m (3,300ft) underground for 12 days has been brought to the surface after a painstaking rescue operation.

Johann Westhauser, 52, is reported to be conscious but the extent of his head and chest injuries is still unclear.

Two doctors accompanied him to the surface and after initial checks he was airlifted to hospital.

He was badly hurt in a rockfall on 8 June while exploring Germany’s deepest cave, near the Austrian border.

A medical team and helicopters were waiting as he left the cave at 11:44 local time (09:44 GMT).

Johann Westhauser is carried to the helicopter outside the Riesending cave complex. 19 June 2014 After medical checks at the surface, Johann Westhauser was carried to a helicopter and airlifted to hospital

Mountain rescue service chief Klemens Reindl, who supervised the operation, said 728 people from five countries had taken part.

“It was one of the most difficult rescue operations in the history of the mountain rescue service,” he said.

“The international character of the mission was remarkable.” The precarious rescue was beset with difficulties because of the deep shafts and narrow passages in the cave.

It involved rest periods in five bivouac stops, followed by a major final hoist up a 180m (600ft) vertical shaft near the entrance to the cave.

A motorised winch could not be used because of the potential risks to Mr Westhauser, and he had to be hauled up manually on a fibreglass stretcher. — BBC

 

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