Eight remain trapped in Western Europe’s longest cave

The Hölloch is known as one of the largest cave systems in Europe due to its extraordinary length. Keystone

Eight men trapped in the Hölloch cave network in Switzerland’s Muotathal valley since January 21 can only be rescued this weekend at the earliest due to heavy rainfall. They are unhurt and are currently stuck in a water-tight bivouac.


The group of cavers aged between 25 and 55 had entered the cave system last Saturday morning and planned to leave on Sunday afternoon.  However, they were surprised by a sudden onrush of water during an excursion with a professional guide. A specialist search and rescue team has reached them but is waiting for the water to recede before making their way out of the cave along a three-kilometre-long route. The situation is being continually assessed by the specialists but it is likely that the men will remain trapped until the weekend when the weather is predicted to calm down. In the meantime, the group is receiving psychological support. 

The trapped men have enough materials and food to survive inside the bivouac, where the temperature is six degrees Celsius. Cave rescue specialists will bring them supplies in the next few days.

The Hölloch cave system (German for ‘hell-hole’) in the central Swiss canton of Schwyz is known as one of the largest cave systems in Europe due to its extraordinary length which is estimated to be at least 190 kilometres, but could possibly be ten times longer. Cavers have become trapped there in the past, particularly in winter when most expeditions take place because of low water levels.


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