Swiss still trapped in cave after three nights underground -

Rescuers managed to locate the speleologists in the cave Keystone

Eight Swiss who were trapped in a flooded cave in France have been found alive after a massive rescue operation. They were able to survive by sheltering on a ledge inside the cave.

This content was published on May 19, 2001 minutes

The seven students and their guide were located in the cave on Friday, after being trapped underground since Wednesday night.

Regional police said there had been delays in freeing them following several pump failures, which prevented them from stabilising the water level.

Divers located the seven students and their guide at around 1050 local time on Friday, but high water levels have prevented them being brought out of the waterlogged cave in the French town of Goumois, close to the Swiss border.

The cavers - aged between 25 and 35 - were said to be weak and exhausted, but otherwise in good health. They were given hot food and drinks to sustain them until they could be pulled out.

Around 300 firemen, police and rescuers have been working round the clock to free the eight since midnight on Wednesday, after a flash flood sealed off the entrance to the cave.

Rescuers were unable to reach the students using the cave entrance, and were forced to dig a tunnel from above to gain access to a known cavity some 70 metres from the entrance.

Seven of the Swiss were student social workers from a Zurich college and one was a teacher. Reports said they had undertaken the tour to help develop their ability to face challenges in their careers.

The college directors said they were "extremely relieved" at the happy outcome. French media reports had criticised the group's guide for going ahead with the expedition despite adverse weather conditions.

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, extended his thanks to the French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, who is visiting Bern, for France's efforts to rescue the trapped Swiss.

swissinfo with agencies

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