Krakow, Poland – More than two dozen rescuers are battling to save two cavers who have been trapped by rising water in a cavern in Poland’s Tatra mountains, using explosives to widen underground passages to help in the search.
No contact with the two cavers
The rescue services have not yet been possible to establish contact with the two cavers who became trapped on Saturday while exploring uncharted parts of the Wielka Sniezna cave in the Tatra mountains.
The Wielka Sniezna cave is the deepest and the longest in Poland. It can be descended to a depth of 824 metres.
“The only way to get to them is through a series of very complicated pyrotechnic actions,” said Jan Krzysztof, head of the Tatra Volunteer Search and Rescue group. “We have the necessary materials, but this will take a long time, we have to be ready for work that could last days if not weeks.” He added that his team has had no contact with the missing cavers and could only roughly guess where they could be.
“We are fearing for their lives now, we don’t know if they are alive. This is the big question,” Krzysztof stated to TVN24.
Main obstacles are the cave’s narrow corridors
According to the TV channel, the first rescue group was sent in on Saturday and with two more groups, including workers from the fire department in Krakow, being dispatched since then. Mine experts, firefighters and mountain rescuers from neighboring Slovakia have also been involved in the search while divers from around Europe have been offering to help.
Associated Press reports that the main obstacle slowing down the operation were the cave’s narrow corridors. The small amounts of explosives used by rescuers to widen passages have been producing harmful gasses and dust which forces rescuers to take up to three-hour breaks to safely ventilate the air in the cave. Poor visibility also prevent the use of a special camera.
Rescue conditions have been particularly difficult due to flooding which also endangers the rescuers.