Brecon Beacons:Injured man trapped in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu recued
Written by Hitmix News on 9 November 2021
A man who has been trapped inside a cave system in the Brecon Beacons for two days has been rescued.
The man in his 40s is alive and has been taken to hospital in an ambulance.
The South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team said the man fell while caving in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu near Penwyllt on Saturday.
He was unable to climb out because of the injuries he suffered in the fall.
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2:19 Practice cave rescue inside Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Peter Francis, of the South Wales Caving Club (SWCC), thinks it was the longest rescue mission in a cave in Britain.
“To actually carry somebody in a stretcher, this is a 60 hour job. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
“It’s involved most of the rescue teams in Britain and the way they’ve worked together, meshed together – I just feel so proud of all of them.”
Discussing the man’s condition, he said: “He’s in good condition. I was here when the call out started. I was very worried then, would we get him out alive or would he deteriorate?
“All Saturday we were worried. Most of yesterday we were worried. So this is a huge relief for us.”
He added: “He was just incredibly unlucky. Physically, he put his foot in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He could have done it on a pavement, in which case he would have been in hospital 10 minutes afterwards.
“But he was a mile or two underground in an awkward place. All the odds were against him, but his mental powers properly got him through. He was in an awful lot of pain to begin with, until we could get the drugs to him. He stood by all that.
“I’m absolutely impressed to no end how the teams worked together. A lot of them didn’t know each other and had never worked together before. And the fact they pulled this off – I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Image: Cave rescuers gather near the site
The man is believed to have gone into the cave system with a group, who managed to get out and call for help.
The severity of his injuries is unclear but he has been placed on a stretcher and rescuers are using a device that puts hot air into his lungs.
Eyewitness, by Becky Johnson, news correspondent
By a small entrance to the vast cave system beneath the Brecon Beacons a team of rescue workers are waiting with a stretcher, hoping their colleagues deep inside the cave will be able to bring the injured man out safely.
It’s an anxious wait, the rescue made harder by fog and rain.
As darkness falls there’s resignation the conditions are too poor for a helicopter to be here to carry him to hospital once he’s out.
But after more than 48 hours rescue workers are hopeful their mission is now in its final stages.
They’re giving regular updates to the family of the man who’s in his mid 40s and an experienced caver.
Now 70 of the 250 strong team of rescuers are currently underground for the final push to get him out.
The cave is treacherous, narrow passages with vertical drops – some stretches filled with water.
There will be relief once he’s out – but until then the work continues.
They have been focused on keeping him warm so he does not catch hypothermia.
Mr Francis said he hopes that the caver will be extricated today but he is not sure if that will happen.
He said getting him out could take a long time because the route is “like a maze” and needs to be rigged. It has become the longest rescue operation in South Wales’ caving history.
Image: Rescuers congregate as a man has been injured and trapped in the cave system since Saturday
“The worst thing that could happen is that we dropped him in the stretcher or something like that and injured him even more,” he said. “So we’ve got to safeguard him in advance.”
The South and Mid Wales Rescue Team said in a statement: “The incident has continued during the night.
Image: There are several entrances to the cave system
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu: Britain’s deepest cave
At a depth of 309.5m (1,013.8ft), Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (OFD) is the deepest cave system in Britain. It is also the third-longest, stretching for 60.6km (37.6miles) under the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.
The cave system is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and owned by Natural Resources Wales, which is part of the Welsh government. There are five entrances to OFD, which are all gated and only accessible with keys given out by the South Wales Caving Club (SWCC).
SWCC only give out keys to permit holders, who have to be members of caving clubs that are affiliated to the British Caving Association (BCA) or equivalent national body. Groups of cavers granted access to OFD are limited to groups of no more than six and must have “adequate experience and suitable clothing”.
SWCC stresses that cavers “enter at their own risk” and “many sections of the cave are arduous”. It also does not monitor the caves, so groups “must make their own arrangements for rescue”.
Between 2,000 and 2,500 trips are made to OFD by cavers every year, mostly at weekends, according to SWCC. The caver currently stuck due to his injuries entered the site through the Cwm Dwr entrance and is being brought out by a team of at least 242 rescuers at the top entrance, Sky News correspondent Becky Johnson reported from the scene.
“We are moving the casualty towards the top entrance of the cave, which is located up on the mountain behind Penwyllt.”
At least eight rescue teams from across the UK have joined the operation, including the Gloucester Cave Rescue Group, Midlands Cave Rescue Organisation, Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation, Mendip Cave Rescue, South East Cave Rescue Organisation, the Cave Rescue Organisation, and Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.
Image: An ambulance was among the vehicles on the scene
At midday, Sky’s Becky Johnson was told there were 242 people involved in the effort.
Located inside a nature reserve, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu – meaning Cave of the Black Spring – was discovered in 1946 and is 300m deep at its lowest point, with its underground caverns stretching over 30 miles.
Only experienced cavers are granted permission to explore inside.