A rescue is underway to extract a group of men who got stuck in a cave in Virginia after the rain made it difficult to get out, the officials said Sunday.
A group of six initially planned to spend the weekend in Cleveland, Virginia, until it started to rain late Saturday night, said Jess Powers, coordinator of Russell County Emergency Management, told ABC News. The rain caused the floor in the cave to become slippery, making it difficult for the men to get out, Powers said.
One person escaped, but the other five remained trapped in the cave.
Only seven miles of the sprawling lair have been set and the rescue could take up to 12 hours, said Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Department of Emergency Management in Virginia, to reporters on Sunday morning. Rescuers have reached the men and it does not seem that they are too far into the cave, he added.
Still, it takes about 90 minutes to reach them, Chrimes said. The first person was pulled out of the cave before 16:00. Sunday announced Jeff Stern, the state coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, on Twitter.
The first person was successfully rescued. Four more.
– Jeff Stern (@SternJD) April 28, 2019
The captive men have been in the cave since Friday around 7 pm, Chrimes said. They were not prepared for the rain after entering the cave and did not bring enough water and food to survive for a long time, Chrimes said.
But rescuers had provided water for them, he added.
The crews are trying to assess how the rescue will be carried out in the narrow column at the entrance to the cave, Chrimes said. Rope climbing and pushing off are required to get through the slope at the entrance of the cave.
The underground temperatures are in the mid-50s, which carries the risk of hypothermia, officials said. The person who escaped told the officials that others felt weak and showed signs of hypothermia, Chrimes said, adding that mobile phones and radios do not work inside.
ABC News – Joshua Hoyos and Will Gretsky contributed to this report.