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Rescue Of German Cave Researcher Could Take Days, Officials Say

A helicopter lands at the bottom of Hochthron mountain in the Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany, on Sunday, where rescuers were trying to extract a trapped researcher. i i

hide captionA helicopter lands at the bottom of Hochthron mountain in the Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany, on Sunday, where rescuers were trying to extract a trapped researcher.

aktivnews/EPA/Landov
A helicopter lands at the bottom of Hochthron mountain in the Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany, on Sunday, where rescuers were trying to extract a trapped researcher.

A helicopter lands at the bottom of Hochthron mountain in the Alps near Berchtesgaden, Germany, on Sunday, where rescuers were trying to extract a trapped researcher.

aktivnews/EPA/Landov

A four-person rescue team in the German Alps has reached a trapped cave researcher who was injured in a rock fall some three-quarters of a mile below ground. But figuring out how to move him is proving a challenge.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports that medical workers were with the 52-year-old victim, whose name has not been released, near the southern Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden. But rescue officials say it could nevertheless take days to get him out because of the difficult terrain inside the vertical cave.

It took one of the injured man's companions 12 hours just to get outside to sound the alarm, Soraya says.

Deutsche Welle reports:

"Swiss specialists arrived on the scene on Monday evening in the hopes of solving what has been up until now an unsolvable problem: how to move the casualty back to above ground.

"According to reports, the head and upper body wounds debilitated the German man so that he can only be transported horizontally, complicating an already complicated rescue mission."

But on Tuesday, a spokesman for Chiemgau Mountain Rescue said the explorer from Stuttgart was responsive and able to stand up for short periods of time, according to The Local, an English-language German news website.

"We have shafts that go straight down 350 meters (1,150 feet), where you have to rappel down and climb back up on a rope," an official tells The Associated Press.

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