Wales cave rescuers edge victim closer to safety as desperate bid stretches into night

A huge rescue mission to save a caver who fell 50ft from a ledge two days ago is continuing into the night.

The victim, who has broken multiple bones after plunging into the cave, has suffered a series of life changing injuries, it has been reported.

He has been trapped underground in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system under the Brecon Beacons since Saturday as rescue workers try and figure out how to save him.

The man, who is in is mid-forties, suffered suspected spinal injuries, a fractured leg, broken breast bone and collar bone. as well as a broken jaw, mouth injuries and neck lacerations.

He’d been crushed by a boulder after falling.

More than 200 rescuers working in teams on 12-hour shifts are involved in bringing the man the two miles to safety.

There are concerns the man may not be brought to the cave of the mouth for treatment before midnight tonight.

Peter Francis, 74, from South and Mid-Wales Cave Rescue Team, said: “We can confirm that the man has multiple injuries but they are not life threatening.

“We’re very optimistic now, it’s a matter of time before we get him out.

“He’s warm, he’s stable. The doctor with him is monitoring him the whole time and we’re not worried about him getting hypothermia.”

Mr Francis said the man was “an experienced, fit caver” and “it was a matter of putting his foot in the wrong place”.

The injured caver had travelled more than 100 miles to set off for the “exploration of a lifetime” in the renowned underground warren.

He fell in the part of the caves known as Cwm Dwr – Welsh for water valley – not far from the entrance where he went in.

But he could not be taken back out that way because of his injuries.

Instead rescuers had to inch him through another route to reach the surface at a mountain spot called Top Entrance.

It included wading through an underground stream with the man on a floating stretcher.

The teams of more than 200 rescuers are “completely confident” about bringing him out even though it may take many more hours of graft.

One said: “If we get him out at dawn then so be it. It is all about safety.

“Let’s face it, he’s lucky to be alive so we don’t want to do anything to make it worse than it is.”

Paul Taylor, spokesman for South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team, said: “The incident started around 1pm on Saturday when a man who was with him alerted us that his partner had fallen.

“I don’t actually know how many were in the group but there would’ve been more than two.

“They had gone in the Cwmdoor entrance, which is the middle entrance, before he fell.”

Asked about the man’s condition, Mr Taylor, also the chairman of the Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group, said: “He’s doing pretty good as far as I understand. He’s been talking throughout so that’s something.”

He said rescuers are attempting to keep the man fed and warm as well as deal with basics such as removing bodily fluids.

“We’re moving him towards the top entrance. We’ve been keeping him on the move since it started,” Mr Taylor said.

At least eight rescue teams from across the UK have joined the operation, including the Gloucestershire Cave Rescue Group, Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, Mendip Cave Rescue, South East Cave Rescue Organisation, the Cave Rescue Organisation, and Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.

The system is a favourite for experienced cavers but too challenging for novices.

The caver fell shortly after going into the caves near the Cwm Dwr section, which is renowned for tough crawling and high ledges.

Julian Carter, warden at the south and mid Wales rescue team, said the cave held a lure for adventures as it was the deepest and the third longest in the UK.

He said the cave was split over many levels with active streams, technical sections, and steep climbs and has three separate entrances.

The warden said the site where the injured man was dry but dark and they had focused on keeping him warm and a floating stretcher was used as teams moved the man along an active stream way.

“It has been a challenging rescue because of where this person was we couldn’t take them out of the nearest entrance,” Mr Carter said.

“The care has been excellent. We’re very good at keeping people warm and avoiding hypothermia.”

Fellow warden Paul Taylor said: “He has been talking with people with our fellow cavers who are his rescuers and that’s as much as we know.

“If it will be today I don’t know but as far as I understand it’s going well. It will happen when it happens.”