5 people trapped in a cave in Slovenia as water level rises due to heavy rains

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Authorities said Sunday that five people were trapped in a cave in southwestern Slovenia, unable to leave due to high water levels caused by heavy rains.

The group includes a family of three and two guides who have been trapped in the Križna Jama cave since Saturday when the water level inside rose, blocking the exit.

Slovenian rescue teams say divers have reached the group, taken them to a safe location designed for such emergencies, and set up a warm shelter where they will wait for the water level to drop.

Igor Benko, head of Slovenia's speleological association, said all five people were OK.

The group entered Saturday morning for a tour of the 8-kilometer (5-mile) cave system with a series of underground lakes. Visitors are only allowed as part of guided tours.

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Benko told the STA news agency that it could take days for the route to be safe again.

Currently, 35 cave rescuers and eight divers from across Slovenia are involved in the rescue operation, officials said, who are being assisted by 11 firefighters and members of the civil protection force.

Slovenia's official STA news agency said Križna Jama is the world's fourth largest known underground ecosystem in terms of biodiversity.

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