Man rescued from cave two days after suffering severe injuries in serious fall

Man rescued from cave two days after suffering severe injuries in serious fall

A man has been carried out of a cave after hundreds of rescue workers spent days trying to get him out.

The man, in his 40s, was brought to the surface of the system this evening after being badly injured on Saturday.

Rescuers formed a guard of honour as he was stretchered into a waiting Land Rover shortly before 8pm, cheering and clapping.

The experienced underground explorer suffered multiple broken bones in a 50ft fall – and a massive rescue operation was launched with more than 250 people carefully inching him more than two miles to safety.

The injured caver in his 40s was seriously hurt when he fell just after 1pm on Saturday, blacking out in a fall when a boulder gave away under his feet during the cave mission.

And he was finally brought out at 8pm tonight after the longest rescue mission in the history of caving in Wales.

Rescue teams had feared it would be dawn before the man would be brought to the surface.

But by 6.30pm it became clear the operation to bring him out of the cave complex was nearing an end.

A mountain rescue Land Rover was driven up to the top entrance of the cave network.

HART medics were also summoned to provide him with immediate aid once he emerged.

At 7.30pm a stream of rescuers emerged one-by-one from the cave, smiling and chatting with colleagues on the surface.

Fifteen minutes later two sheets of tarpaulin were held aloft by rescuers to block the view of the media.

Then the stretcher was slowly carried 20 metres from the cave entrance to the waiting Land Rover.

It was only once the caver was inside the vehicle that the rescuers began clapping and cheering.

The teams then slowly began walking back to the caving club headquarters by torchlight.

One rescuer told the Mirror: “It’s been the toughest rescue we’ve been involved in. It’s definitely time for a beer now.”

Teams from around Britain worked 12-hour shifts in the exhausting task of bringing out the man from the caves under the Brecon Beacons in mid-Wales.

The man suffered suspected spinal injuries, a compound fracture to his leg breaking both his fibula and tibia, broken breast bone and collar bone – as well as suffering a broken jaw, mouth injuries and lacerations to his neck.

The massive operation swung into action with cold and wet rescuers “absolutely delighted” to get him out alive to get urgent medical treatment 20 miles away at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital.

One said: “It was bloody hard work. But well worth to know he is out and alive – it could have been any of us in there. It is good to know there are cavers who are your mates to save your life.”

The injured man, who hasn’t been named but believed to be from southern England, was taken from the Top Entrance of the cave network to be ferried by ambulance for emergency medical treatment.

“It was too dark and windy for a helicopter to land.

He fell in the part of the caves known as Cwm Dwr – Welsh for water valley – not far from the entrance where he went in.

Earlier this evening Gary Mitchell, surface controller for South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, said the man was in “good spirits”.

The man is described as very experienced and has visited the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system before.

Shortly before 5pm Mr Mitchell said: “We’re nearing the final phases of the operation. We’re about to deploy 20 more rescuers, and HART medics are now making their way underground to him.

“The casualty is doing really well, he’s in as good spirits as can be expected. The important thing now is to get the casualty the care he needs which is getting him to a hospital.”

“He’s in his mid-40s. He’s a caver, and absolutely fit, no doubt about that, which has really helped him get through this ordeal,” Mr Mitchell said.

Around 260 volunteer cave rescuers had joined in to save the man, he added.

Around 70 had been underground helping the man make his way up the final part of the cave on a stretcher.

Rescuers had been inching the injured climber to safety following his fall, around two miles into the caving system.

Peter Francis, 74, from South and Mid-Wales Cave Rescue Team, said: “We can confirm that the man has multiple injuries but they are not life threatening.

“We’re very optimistic now, it’s a matter of time before we get him out.

“He’s warm, he’s stable. The doctor with him is monitoring him the whole time and we’re not worried about him getting hypothermia.”

Mr Francis said the man was “an experienced, fit caver” and “it was a matter of putting his foot in the wrong place”.

He added: “It’s just something moved from under him.”

Mr Francis had said rescuers were planning on bringing him down and then transporting him by car to hospital for emergency treatment.

Foggy and wet conditions in the Brecon Beacons mean an air ambulance helicopter is unable to land.