Brecon Beacons: Injured man rescued from cave after two days trapped inside

‘This is the longest rescue we’ve ever done’ says rescue spokesman

Alastair Jamieson,Liam James,Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 09 November 2021 09:53
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Cheers as trapped caver rescued after two days

There were cheers and applause on Monday night as a man was rescued alive from a cave in the Brecon Beacons after spending more than two days trapped inside.

The man, in his 40s, was brought out of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu in Wales - known as the UK’s deepest cave - at around 7.45pm on Monday following a 54-hour ordeal.

Rescuers said the nature of the man’s injuries, as well as the deep underground location, resulted in the “longest stretcher carry in British cave rescue history”.

More than 300 volunteers from around the UK helped to rescue the man from the cave in the Swansea Valley.

Around 30 rescuers at a time would head out from the caving club up the mountain to relieve their colleagues from their work underground. Some were in the cave for 12 hours at a time.

South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team said rescuers spent 54 hours “manoeuvring the injured caver through technically challenging terrain” to bring him to the surface.

Described as an experienced caver who was unlucky, the man had been trapped since Saturday at around 1pm after suffering a fall in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system, which is also the third-longest in the UK as well as the deepest.

His injuries are said to be non-life threatening, but are believed to include a broken jaw, leg, and spinal injuries.

According toThe Sun, the man also suffered a suspected shattered collar bone and broken breast bone.

After being lifted to the surface, he was helped into a Land Rover ready to be transported down to a waiting ambulance as rescuers cheered him on.

Gary Evans, the emergency services liaison officer, said: “The casualty is doing remarkably well, if you consider how long he’s been in the cave, how long he’s been in a stretcher – he’s doing very well indeed.

“He’s being assessed at the moment and we’ll know more in a short while.”

Asked how he felt after the success of the operation, Mr Evans added: “We’re absolutely delighted. We’re delighted because it was a difficult rescue and we’re delighted because the casualty has done really well considering what’s happened.”

Volunteers from ten cave rescue teams from around the UK were involved in the operation, some of whom were involved in the Thai cave rescue in 2018.

Rescuers carried stretcher for hours at a time in precipitous conditions

Peter Francis, a SMWCRT spokesperson, said the rescue was the longest in south Wales caving history.

“This is the longest rescue we’ve ever done,” he said. “The caver was very unlucky here. He’s an experienced caver, a fit caver. And it was a matter of putting his foot in the wrong place.

“He wasn’t in a dangerous part of the cave, it’s just something moved from under him.”

Rescue teams had to contend gloomy weather conditions above ground, with thick fog and drizzle meaning an air ambulance was unable to land.

Groups were dispatched from the nearby South Wales Caving Club headquarters, where waiting rescuers were supplied with hot drinks and food.

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu – meaning “Cave of the Black Spring” – was discovered in 1946 and is 300m deep at its lowest point. The underground caverns stretch over 30 miles, making it Britain’s third longest cave.

Only experienced cavers are granted permission to explore inside.

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