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A caver who had been trapped underground in south Wales was finally freed after a 54-hour rescue mission involving about 250 volunteers.
George Linnane, a company director from Bristol, was freed from the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system in the Brecon Beacons at about 7.45pm on Monday, November 8, after a section of the rock crumbled beneath his feet and caused him to fall.
The 38-year-old is believed to have suffered back, leg and facial injuries as he fell from the rock that his caving partner had safely walked across just seconds earlier.
Linnane was crushed by a boulder in the cave, but dozens of volunteers came to his rescue after the alarm was raised on Saturday. To help get him out of the cave, rescuers had to swim through an underground stream with the caver on a floating stretcher before lifting him 90ft through a vertical chasm, The Mirror reports.
His mother, Sally Linnane-Hemmens, described the wait for her son to be brought to the surface as ‘horrendous’ and has asked people to donate to the groups that helped in the rescue efforts.
She set up a fundraiser for the South & Mid-Wales Cave Rescue Team, which led the operation, writing: ‘These guys, along with several other cave rescue teams from across the UK, saved my son’s life. He had been trapped underground for 50 hours-plus and is badly injured.’
After he was freed from the cave, Linnane was put into a cave rescue Land Rover and transferred to an ambulance which took him to hospital. The 38-year-old is still being treated, but he is reportedly expected to make a good recovery.
A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board confirmed Linnane was brought to the hospital and is ‘undergoing treatment’, but was unable to comment further due to patient confidentiality, according to The Guardian.
Despite Linnane’s ordeal, Steve Thomas of South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team has denied exploring caves is a reckless pastime, arguing the activity makes you ‘fit and alert’.
A boulder can stay in place for 10,000 years and one day it will move. One guy walked across a section. Then it collapsed at the exact moment this guy went across. You just don’t know. It is just bad luck.
These cave systems are like time capsules. Some areas haven’t changed since the time of the Romans. You see parts that look as if they’re going to go any minute and they haven’t shifted for years. When they do move, they can be violent.
Thomas also stressed ‘There is no rescue service for cavers apart from other cavers’, and explained those who took part in the efforts to save Linnane were simply demonstrating how they look ‘after our brothers’.
The rescuer has suggested Linnane will need some ‘quiet time’ after the ordeal, and noted his recovery will likely be lengthy.
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