Crews in southwest Virginia rescued five men trapped in a cave on Sunday after they began suffering from mild hypothermia and exhaustion while exploring.
Teams extracted all the men alive by Sunday evening after beginning operations in the morning, said Jeff Stern, state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Authorities airlifted one man to the hospital for treatment. Three men were able to climb out on their own, said Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. The condition of the fifth man was not immediately available.
“I’m happy to report that all individuals have been safety rescued from the cave in Cleveland, Virginia,” tweeted Gov. Ralph Northam. “Sending my deepest gratitude to the first responders, @VDEM, and search and rescue personnel who helped get them to safety.”
Six men, ranging in age from 34 to 59, entered Cyclops Cave near Cleveland around 7 p.m. Friday and planned to camp overnight Sunday, Chrimes said. Heavy rains made it more difficult for the men to climb out, as damp conditions worsened their hypothermia and muddied the cave.
The group did not prepare for the cave’s conditions, he said, and they became exhausted without enough food and water.
A 22-year-old man managed to get out at about 2 a.m. Sunday and reported the group’s situation to authorities. He did not need treatment at a hospital, Chrimes said.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Kristin Lam