In pictures: German caver rescued

  • 19 June 2014
  • From the section Europe

A caver trapped in German's deepest cavern for 12 days after a rockfall has been brought to the surface after a mammoth rescue operation.

Johann Westhauser, 52, suffered head and chest injuries and was trapped 1,000m (3,300ft) inside the Riesending cave system. After reaching the surface he was airlifted to hospital.

There was a tense wait as the rescue party neared the entrance to the cave early on Thursday. In the final stage, the stretcher carrying Mr Westhauser had to be hoisted up a 180m (600ft) vertical shaft.

But there were cheers from the mountain rescue team as the caver was finally brought into the daylight.

The cave entrance is in the Alps near the border with Austria, 1,800m (5,900ft) above sea level. A team of more than 700 people from five different countries was involved in the rescue.

As the painstaking operation progressed, grainy images showed Mr Westhauser being carefully squeezed through a labyrinth of narrow crevices on his way to the surface.

Pulleys and winches were set up to carry the stretcher across vertical shafts.

Johann Westhauser was one of the explorers who originally discovered the vast cave system in 1995. It stretches for about 19km (12 miles).

Mr Westhauser's condition is described as stable and officials said he "came through the rescue operation well".