UK & World News
Germany: Man Rescued After 11-Day Cave Ordeal
An injured explorer has been rescued after being trapped in Germany's deepest and longest cave for 11 days.
A multi-national team comprising hundreds of emergency personnel had battled around the clock in a complex operation to get him out.
"The victim has been brought to the surface and is receiving emergency medical care," a mountain rescue official said.
He was speaking after the team reached the mouth of the cave in the Bavarian Alps, where a helicopter was waiting to take the stricken explorer to hospital.
Johann Westhauser, 52, suffered head and chest injuries in a rock fall about 1,000 metres (3,300ft) below ground in the labyrinthine Riesending cave complex on June 8.
One of his two companions made the more than 10-hour trip back to the surface to raise the alarm while the other stayed behind.
The rescue effort, high in the mountains near the Austrian border, involved a total of 728 people from five countries - Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Croatia.
"It was one of the most difficult rescue operations in the history of the mountain rescue service," said Klemens Reindl, who runs the service and supervised the operation.
After reaching him, rescuers placed Mr Westhauser on a fibreglass stretcher, then slowly made their through a treacherous network of tunnels and chambers, underground lakes and ice-cold waterfalls.
The last part of the operation involved hoisting Mr Westhauer up a 180-metre vertical shaft near the entrance to the cave, officials said.
German Red Cross president Rudolf Seiters praised the rescue effort, saying the conditions were "extremely difficult".
"The fact that they still managed is a great success for the volunteer rescue workers," he said.
The Technology Institute of Karlsruhe, where Mr Westhauser works in the applied physics department, also praised the rescuers.
"Our thanks goes to the Bavaria mountain rescue service and the many helpers at the scene who brought the difficult rescue with care and great personal commitment to a happy end," it said in a statement.
The Riesending cave, north of the city of Berchtesgaden, was discovered only in the mid-1990s and was not explored and mapped until 2002. It is more than 19km (11 miles) long and up to 1,150m deep.