Images: Injured Researcher Rescued from German Cave

Rescuers finally reach the surface after nearly two weeks

 

 
 
 

GEIR MOULSON, Associated Press | | Thursday, June 19, 2014

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Successful German Cave Rescue

Researcher extricated after nearly two weeks.
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BERLIN (AP) — After spending nearly two weeks underground, an injured German caver was hauled out of the country's deepest cavern Thursday by a multinational rescue operation that involved more than 700 people.

Johann Westhauser, an experienced caver, had gone into the Riesending cave system in the Alps with two companions to carry out research and measurements. He was hit in the head during a June 8 rock fall while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground.

After lengthy preparations, rescue teams five days later began the arduous task of hauling him up through a labyrinth of narrow passages and precipitous vertical shafts.

Rescuers brought the 52-year-old the final 180 meters (590 feet) to the surface Thursday and immediately sent him to a hospital.

"A chapter of Alpine rescue history has been written here over the last 12 days," Bavarian mountain rescue chief Norbert Heiland said, adding that officials initially doubted whether a rescue was possible.

The rescue became a media event with multi-page spreads in German tabloids.

In all, 728 people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia participated in the operation, operation director Klaus Reindl told reporters in nearby Berchtesgaden.

"Since the birth of caving, there have been only two incidents of this depth, complexity and difficulty," Italian rescuer Roberto Conti said.

A fit expert could climb from the accident site to the entrance in about 12 hours, but rescuers had to haul Westhauser on a stretcher. The cave entrance is on a mountainside, 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) above sea level.

Westhauser's condition has been described throughout as stable. Officials didn't elaborate Thursday, but Reindl said he "came through the rescue operation well."

Bavaria's top security official said he wants to make sure the highly publicized rescue doesn't attract "risk tourism." Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann advocated shutting the cave entrance to ensure it was accessed only by experts.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Successful German Cave Rescue

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German Cave Rescue

Members of the mountain rescue service stand next to the entrance of the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, early Thursday June 19., 2014. Germany's mountain rescue service said after a short pause overnight, its team resumed work early Thursday morning to bring Johann Westhauser the final 180 meters (590 feet) to the surface. The going has been slow as rescuers have had to haul Westhauser by hand through the narrow winding passage. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

This screenshot from a video provided by the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service on Tuesday June 17, 2014 shows rescuers transporting cave explorer Johann Westhauser in Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg near Berchtesgarden, Germany, Germany’s mountain rescue service says it could complete the rescue of the injured cave researcher from the country’s deepest cave on Thursday or Friday as experts make good progress through the labyrinth’s passages and shafts. Johann Westhauser suffered head injuries nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system, in the Alps near the Austrian border, on June 8. (AP Photo/BRK Bergwacht Bayern)


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German Cave Rescue

Photo provided by mountain rescue service Bavaria shows rescuers pulling up injured German cave researcher Johann Westhauser out of the country's deepest cavern near Berchtesgaden at the German-Austrian border Thursday, June 19, 2014. The final stretch marked the end of a spectacular rescue operation that lasted nearly a week. Westhauser sustained head injuries in a rock fall June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system. (AP Photo/Bergwacht Bayern)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Photo provided by mountain rescue service Bavaria shows rescuers carrying the stretcher with injured German cave researcher Johann Westhauser out of the country's deepest cavern near Berchtesgaden at the German-Austrian border Thursday, June 19, 2014. The final stretch marked the end of a spectacular rescue operation that lasted nearly a week. Westhauser sustained head injuries in a rock fall June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system. (AP Photo/Bergwacht Bayern)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers carry cave researcher Johann Westhauser , center, to a helicopter outside the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers carry cave researcher Johann Westhauser , center, out of the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers carry cave researcher Johann Westhauser , center, out of the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers carry cave researcher Johann Westhauser , center, to a helicopter outside the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers carry cave researcher Johann Westhauser , center, to a helicopter outside the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)


Gallery 1

German Cave Rescue

Mountain rescuers celebrate after they rescued cave researcher Johann Westhauser out of the Riesending cave near Marktschellenberg, southern Germany, Thursday June 19, 2014. The German cave researcher has been successfully brought to the surface after suffering head injuries in an accident deep underground nearly two weeks ago. Westhauser was injured June 8 while nearly 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) underground in the Riesending cave system in the Alps near the Austrian border. (AP Photo/dpa,Nicolas Armer)



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