Tuesday 10 June 2014

Rescue operation ongoing at Riesending Cave, near Berchtesgaden in the German Alps.

A rescue operation is underway at Riesending Cave, near Berchtesgaden in the German Alps following an accident on Sunday 8 June 2014 which left a 52-year-old man trapped nearly 1000 m below the surface and 6000 from the cave entrance. The man, who is described as an experienced cave researcher and one of the team that first discovered the Riesending Cave, apparently suffered head and torso injuries in a rock fall. He has been described as 'responsive, but not doing well' by local press reports.

A member of a rescue team entering the Riesending Cave on Monday 9 June 2014. Markus Leitner/Bavarian Red Cross/AP.

The site where the man is trapped is apparently about 12 hours from the surface, and can only be reached by descending a series of shear shafts, up to 350 m in depth, then climbing back up subterranean ravines, as well as crawling through a series of narrow crevices. Around 200 rescue workers and medical personnel from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are said to be involved in the rescue operation.

The approximate location of the Riesending Cave. Google Maps.

Riesending is Germany's deepest and longest known cave system, reaching at least 1148 m below the surface and being at least 19.2 km long. The system was discovered in 1995, and mapping began in 2002 and is still ongoing. The system comprises karstification caves, formed by the dissolution of limestone by percolating water.

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