SARAJEVO – Divers entered a flooded 8.2-km Slovenian cave on Monday to try to evacuate five people who have been trapped deep inside since Saturday as water levels begin to recede, the head of the rescue mission said on Monday.
“The first section of the cave is passable for now,” said Maks Merela, the head of Slovenia´s Cave Search and Rescue Unit. “The divers are getting inside and we hope they will come out with evacuees in the course of the day, by evening at the latest,” Merela told Reuters on telephone.
The group of five, a family of three adults and two tourist guides, had taken shelter in a safe place in the Križna Jama cave in southwestern Slovenia, which can only be visited by boat.
Divers managed to reach them on Saturday and Sunday and bring them food, water, medicines and a heated tent, but the high water level made their evacuation impossible as they were more than 2 km from the entrance to the cave.
“They are in a super psycho-physical condition, in a dry place, they have a heated tent and all supplies they need,” Merela said. “They are only waiting to get out.”
He said that all exits will be passable when the water subsides, and that evacuees will be given diving suits if there is need for them to swim out of the cave.
Merela said that this was the first time people have been trapped in Križna Jama, a chain of underground lakes with emerald green water, the fourth largest known cave ecosystem in the world in terms of biodiversity.
“There was a disastrous situation with flooding in Slovenia last year,” he said. “The land has not absorbed all the water yet.”
Last August, Slovenia was stuck by the worst floods on record that killed six people and swept away homes. REUTERS
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