International rescue effort saves Cecilio Lopez from 1,200 ft deep cave after harness snapped
Published by Anadolu Agency Oct 1
An international rescue effort succeeded Tuesday in freeing a badly injured Spanish speleologist who was trapped for 12 days in a cave in the remote Peruvian Andes.
Cecilio Lopez, part of a nine-man expedition team exploring the region’s precipitous cloud forest, fractured vertebrae and ribs Sept. 18 when his harness snapped five meters from completing a rappel down a 1,200-foot shaft in the Intimachay cave in the Chacapoyas region, 400 miles northeast of Lima.
The area’s cold and wet conditions raised doubts about his chances at survival before a team reached him last week. At an altitude of 10,000 feet of and with nearly 100 percent humidity, rescuers had to navigate narrow stretches, in parts just wide enough for an adult male.
The operation saw more than 58 cavers travel from Madrid, along with 40 firefighters and members from Peru’s military, work to free Lopez.
The team set up a tent to shelter Lopez while paramedics administered pain relief. On Monday he was winched on a stretcher about half away up the shaft before finally reaching the exit Tuesday night.
Bad weather conditions threated to force Lopez to spend the night in a camp, however, a helicopter eventually braved the terrain to fly Lopez to the nearby city of Chachapoyas, and then to Lima where he was hospitalized.
His was reportedly in stable condition and in images released on the Peruvian Air Forces’ social networks, he appeared conscious, surrounded by smiling military personnel.
Lopez penned a letter before his rescue.
“Greetings from the depths of the earth. First, stay calm, Mum (you know how they [mothers] are),” he wrote.
After thanking a list of friends and rescuers he apologized for “the hassle I have caused.”