The Slovenia Times

Five people rescued from cave after two days

Rescuers dive to help five people trapped in the Križna Jama cave. Photo: Cave Rescue Service/Facebook

Five people who were trapped in the Križna Jama cave in southwest Slovenia for two days were rescued on the afternoon of 8 January after water levels receded enough to allow cave rescuers to reach the stranded group.

Rescuers entered the cave in the late morning and made their way to a ledge more than two kilometres deep inside the eight-kilometre cave system where the five - a three-member Slovenian family and two guides - were waiting.

They were put on a dinghy and transported from the cave, according to Walter Zakrajšek, the head of the Slovenian Cave Rescue Service. All five are in perfect health and do not need medical or psychological assistance.

"Today is a day of happiness and life," said Sandi Curk, the commander of the Civil Protection Force for Notranjska region, where the cave is located.

Walter Zakrajšek, head of the cave rescue service, speaks about the rescue of five persons trapped in the Križna Cave. Photo: Živa Ogrin/STA

The group entered the cave on the morning of 6 January in a scheduled guided tour of the kind that are organised in one of Slovenia's most picturesque caves almost on a daily basis through much of the year.

However, water levels in the cave rose precipitously in a matter of hours due to strong rains and they were unable to exit the cave. When the tour did not end in the afternoon as planned, rescuers were dispatched to the scene.

Cave divers spent several hours getting to the group, which found refuge on a ledge about ten metres above the water level. While the divers were unable to evacuate them the first day, they provided food, blankets and heaters to help them survive until the waters receded.

"It was not a simple job for us, but it was not difficult either. Once we knew they were fine, we knew we were going to do this," said Igor Benko, the president of the Slovenian Speleology Association, one of the three leaders of the rescue effort.

This was the first rescue from a tourist cave in Slovenia and the first incident of this kind in the popular Križna Jama cave, which can be entered only with professional guides and where guided tours are booked out more than a year in advance.

Slovenia has hundreds of karst caves but only a handful can be visited by tourists. Križna Jama is hugely popular because of a series of underground lakes with emerald water located deep inside a mountain. The tours typically last from a few hours to half a day.


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