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Dozens of caving specialists are trying to rescue an injured man trapped in Germany’s Riesending cave system. The man, who can only be moved lying down, has been located roughly 1,000 meters below the surface.
An expedition in the German Alps near the southern Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden turned serious in the early hours of Monday morning, when falling rocks severely injured a caver.
By Monday afternoon, rescue workers had been able to reach the 52-year-old German man – a cave researcher – who lay trapped 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground.
Swiss specialists arrived on the scene on Monday evening in the hopes of solving what has been up until now an unsolvable problem: how to move the casualty back to above ground.
According to reports, the head and upper body wounds debilitated the German man so that he can only be transported horizontally, complicating an already complicated rescue mission.
Mountain rescue official Klemens Reindl told Germany broadcaster n-tv that Riesending was "one of the most difficult caves in Europe."
"We have shafts that go straight down 250 meters, where you have to rappel down and climb back up on a rope," Reindl added.
The injured man was reportedly one of the speleologists who discovered the 19.2 kilometer-long cave system in 1995.
Cave rescue specialists from both Bavaria and Austria have been working in teams of four and have reportedly set up several camps along the 12-hour trek route through the labyrinth-like Riesending cave system. They were also working to set up a telephone line below ground.
The Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden lies some 150 kilometers southeast of Munich, close to the Austrian border.
kms/ipj (AP, dpa)