Speed Reads

Inch by Inch

A treacherous, 10-day rescue operation is finally just hours away from the surface of Germany's deepest cave

A treacherous, 10-day rescue operation is finally just hours away from the surface of Germany's deepest cave

Germany's Riesending cave means "massive thing" in English, and rescuers are finally nearing the surface of the abyss with an injured explorer. The extremely technical, painstakingly precise operation has lasted 10 days so far:

Iframe Code

#450471532 / gettyimages.com

A rockfall badly injured Johann Westhauser, 52, on June 8, and since then, a rescue team of 15 cave specialists, along with two doctors, has been pulling him, literally inch by inch, out of the labyrinth, reports BBC News.

The team is closing in on the surface, but the operation is far from over. After resting for several hours, rescuers will tackle the final leg of the journey, peppered with waterfalls, pulleys, and vertical shafts through which they must haul Westhauser. The explorer, credited as part of a team that found the massive cave in 1995, suffered severe head and chest injuries from a rockfall while on a weekend holiday trip with two fellow climbers, both of whom are safe.

Below, images of the operation, climbing higher and higher. --Sarah Eberspacher

Iframe Code

#450472716 / gettyimages.com

Iframe Code

#450699680 / gettyimages.com

Iframe Code

#450699688 / gettyimages.com