Potholer trapped in cave for 24 hours is rescued

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The Independent Online

A potholer leading a television documentary crew was trapped in a cave for 24 hours after she fell seven feet and injured her back and pelvis.

Laura Trowbridge, 22, emerged from Otter Hole Cave in Gwent, south Wales, yesterday thanks to a "superhuman" rescue effort by local cavers and 70 of the world's leading cave rescue experts, who were attending a convention near by.

Ms Trowbridge - an Aberystwyth University student and secretary of the Wessex Caving Club - was with a television crew of nine 750 metres inside the cave, near Chepstow, when she became trapped on Tuesday. She slipped from a ledge while trying to pass equipment.

While four of her companions crawled to the surface to get help, another four - including a doctor - remained with Ms Trowbridge as the cave's exit flooded during the river Wye's high tide.

The team, from Red Weather Productions, were filming a series for HTV West. Frank Spencer, the show's producer and director, said: "Viewers won't see the drama of the fall. Unfortunately our camera was nowhere near the incident so we did not get it on tape."

Eleven rescuers remained with the student and her companions throughout the night. When the tide dropped, shortly after dawn, rescuers began bringing her out by stretcher. The last few metres took more than two hours because she had to be lifted off the stretcher to be squeezed through tight holes.

Surfacing just before 5pm, Ms Trowbridge, from Taunton, Somerset, was taken by helicopter to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.

Her parents, John and Susan, who were at the scene, said they were "very relieved".

Peter Hobson, a rescuer, said: "We are very glad she is out and safe. It has been a superhuman effort by the rescue team in very difficult conditions."Gloucestershire Cave Rescue, West Brecon Cave Rescue, the Midlands Care Rescue Organisation and the Severn Area Rescue Association ran the operation.

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