Slovenian rescuers hope to rescue five people trapped in the cave by Saturday


LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenian rescue workers are hoping Monday to free five people who have been trapped in a cave for more than two days due to high water levels.

If all goes according to plan, the rescue operation should be completed by noon, said Sandy Kirk, who is coordinating the effort.

A family of three adults and their two guides became trapped in the Križna Jama cave in southwestern Slovenia on Saturday due to heavy rain.

The 8 kilometers (5 mi) cave system consisting of a series of emerald-colored underground lakes can only be accessed by boats with rafts and guides.

The group entered on Saturday morning but got trapped due to rapidly rising underground water. By Monday the water level had dropped, raising hopes that they could be pulled out.

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A team of six divers headed Monday toward the trapped men, who are located in a dry area about 2 kilometers (more than a mile) inside the cave. Rescuers said the plan was for the group to board a small boat that divers would tow out of the cave.

The water temperature inside the cave is 6 °C (42 Fahrenheit) and visibility is very low.

Rescue workers said all five people were doing well despite spending two nights inside the cave. A group of divers arrived over the weekend with a warm tent, food and clothing.

“They are fine. They miss cigarettes and phone contacts,” said Damir Podnar, one of the divers.

Slovenia is known for its more than 14,000 caves. Krzna Jama is the fourth largest known underground ecosystem in the world.

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