Seven Spanish spelunkers rescued from cave in France

On Wednesday, French authorities rescued seven Spanish spelunkers who had been trapped overnight in a cave in the Pyrenees region.

(AP Photo/DRAC Rhone-Alpes, Ministere de la Culture)
This photo shows detail in the Cave of Pont d’Arc, southern France. Drawings of mammoths, human footprints and other art carved on cave walls in southern France about 30,000 years ago have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The U.N. cultural agency says that the Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc contains the best preserved figurative drawings in the world. The drawings were unexpectedly discovered in 1994 by researcher Jean-Marie Chauvet.

French authorities on Wednesday rescued seven Spanish spelunkers who had been trapped overnight in a cave in the Pyrenees region.

The Haute-Garonne prefecture launched a successful rescue operation in the morning, and said that the six men and one woman were "lifted out of a chasm" and are "tired but not injured." Officials say a doctor is at the scene to provide a medical checkup.

Officials said that the Spaniards were part of a group of 15 explorers who began a descent on Tuesday afternoon and eventually got trapped. Eight managed to escape to the surface during the night, and contacted authorities at around 4 a.m. (0300 GMT).

Spain's foreign ministry said that the Spanish consul in Toulouse was at the scene.

Extreme weather and recent heavy rain have caused flooding in some caves in the mountainous region — well-known to cave explorers. It's about 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Toulouse and around 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Spanish border in the area of Arbas-Herran.

The cavers were apparently blocked from getting out by rising waters caused by the bad weather that has affected the Haute-Garonne department in recent days.

The caves in this part of France are near the famous Pyrenne "Caves of Gargass" where Paleolithic cave paintings have been found, thought to be about 27,000 years old. 

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