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08 November 2021

Almost 250 cavers join rescue mission for injured man trapped in cave for two days

08 November 2021

Almost 250 cavers have joined the rescue mission to save a man who fell while climbing one of the UK’s largest caves.

The man has not yet been identified but was said to be an experienced caver.

He was part of a group exploring the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system in the Brecon Beacons in Wales when he fell on Saturday.

The man was injured in the fall and has been trapped in a cavern ever since.

Rescuers walk towards the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system near Penwyllt, Powys, in the Brecon Beacons, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

PA press agency understands he has suffered spinal injuries, a broken jaw and a broken leg.

Teams of rescuers have been working in shifts for more than 48 hours to bring him to safety.

While rescuers have managed to locate the man and put him on a stretcher, the PA news agency understands it could take another 10 hours before he is lifted out.

Rescuers have not yet revealed how far he fell or the extent of his injuries, but one rescuer said: “He’s lucky to be with us.”

“He’s in a bad way,” they added.

Paul Taylor, spokesman for South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, said: “The incident started around 1pm on Saturday when a man who was with him alerted us that his partner had fallen.

“I don’t actually know how many were in the group but there would’ve been more than two.

“They had gone in the Cwmdoor entrance, which is the middle entrance, before he fell.”

Asked about the man’s condition, Mr Taylor, also the chairman of the Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group, said: “He’s doing pretty good as far as I understand. He’s been talking throughout so that’s something.”

Rescuers at the entrance of the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system near Penwyllt, Powys, in the Brecon Beacons, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

He said rescuers are attempting to keep the man fed and warm as well as deal with basics such as removing bodily fluids.

“We’re moving him towards the top entrance. We’ve been keeping him on the move since it started,” Mr Taylor said.

At least eight rescue teams from across the UK have joined the operation, including the Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group, Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, Mendip Cave Rescue, South East Cave Rescue Organisation, the Cave Rescue Organisation, and Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.

Mountain rescue are also on site in case the man is unable to be airlifted to hospital by helicopter because of the weather and needs to be carried down the mountain.

Several South Wales Ambulance Service vehicles are also present, including their HART team who are trained specifically to deal with large-scale incidents, and are supplying the cavers with O2 cylinders.

The latest total of cavers to join the operation is now at 242.

The caves located near to Penwyllt are 300 metres deep, making them the deepest in the UK.

Discovered in 1947, they are also the third longest cave in the UK stretching more than 30 miles.

Rescuers at the entrance of the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system near Penwyllt, Powys in the Brecon Beacons, Wales (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

Paul Francis, one of the oldest cave rescuers taking part, and who is responsible for the discovery of parts of the cave, called the incident “an unfortunate, chance accident”.

“This incident is a one-off,” Mr Francis said.

“Although this is a world-class cave system. It’s Himalayan by cave standards, it’s a fairly safe area.

“You’re more likely to be knocked down by a bus than this happening to you.”

Describing the caves, he said: “There’s a stream and waterfalls down there, as well as a massive canyon. It’s really beautiful. And that’s why people come here. It’s very impressive.”

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