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Saved ...after 12 days in cave tomb; THE MIRACLE 3,300FT DOWN.


INJURED caver Johann Westhauser was yesterday hauled into the daylight - 12 days after being trapped 3,300 feet below the surface.

Seven hundred rescuers from five countries had battled for six days to free the scientist from Germany's deepest cavern.

They had to spray him with building insulation foam to protect him from hypothermia as they inched his stretcher through twisting passages with the rock sometimes just millimetres from his face.

The final stage of the [euro]2.4million rescue involved a hoist up a 550ft vertical shaft.

The 52-year-old was said to be conscious but the extent of his head and chest injuries are still unclear. A helicopter whisked him to hospital with wife Angelika. He had talked to her by walkie talkie throughout his rescue.

Dr Westhauser was injured by falling rocks while exploring with two colleagues in the Riesending labyrinth which he helped discover in 1995.

One caver began a gruelling 12-hour race to the cave mouth near Berchesgaden on the Austrian border to raise the alarm. The other cared for the physicist as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Italian rescue workers were the first to reach him. He managed to tell them after a week underground: "I am feeling OK." At one stage doctors, who fitted a neck brace to avoid further brain swelling, considered boring into his skull while underground to relieve brain pressure. Austrian neurologist Martin Goeksu, 37, took a borrowed skull drill underground with him but it was unclear yesterday whether he had to use it. Dr Westhauser was on a stretcher for most of the ascent but at some points had to walk because of twists in the system.

It lies beneath the Berchtesgaden Alps - site of Adolf Hitler's Berghof retreat - and is over 11 miles long.

A total of 728 rescuers from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Croatia and Austria were involved in the operation.


HE'S OUT Johann sees daylight at last

BATTLE Team inch stretcher to cave mouth

INTREPID Johann in cave in 2009

GOING UP Caver hauled towards surface
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2014
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