Injured man trapped in German cave rescued after 12 days

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Injured man trapped in German cave rescued after 12 days
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 16: In this handout image supplied by the Bavarian mountain patrol 'Bergwacht Bayern', Injured spelunker Johann Westhauser is transported with ropes by rescue workers from 700 meters underground towards the surface of the Riesending cave on June 16, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. Westhauser, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured 1,000 meters underground on June 8. Since then specialist rescue workers from across Europe are helping with the arduous rescue effort, which will likely take at least several more days. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 16: In this handout image supplied by the Bavarian mountain patrol 'Bergwacht Bayern', Rescue workers transport injured spelunker Johann Westhauser from 700 meters underground towards the surface of the Riesending cave on June 16, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. Westhauser, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured 1,000 meters underground on June 8. Since then specialist rescue workers from across Europe are helping with the arduous rescue effort, which will likely take at least several more days. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 11: In this undated handout photo a spelunker explores the Riesending cave where an explorer is currently lying injured 1,000 meters below since June 8, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 11: In this undated handout photo a spelunker explores the Riesending cave where an explorer is currently lying injured 1,000 meters below since June 8, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 11: In this undated handout photo a spelunker explores the Riesending cave where an explorer is currently lying injured 1,000 meters below since June 8, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 11: In this undated handout photo a spelunker explores the Riesending cave where an explorer is currently lying injured 1,000 meters below since June 8, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: Members of the local fire brigade and rescue team speak with the media at their coordinating center near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: General view of the Untersberg peak, near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: Members of the local fire brigade and rescue team speak with the media at their coordinating center near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross a rescue worker descends into the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz/Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross rescue workers arrive by helicopter near the entrance to the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo Courtesy of Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross rescue workers stand at the entrance to the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo Courtesy of Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross rescue workers gather at a tent near the entrance to the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo Courtesy of Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross a rescue worker descends into the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz/Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross rescue workers gather near the entrance to the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo Courtesy of Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz via Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 10: In this handout photo provided by the Bavarian Red Cross rescue workers gather near the entrance to the Riesending underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 10, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks on June 8 and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo Courtesy of Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz via Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: General view of the Untersberg peak, near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: An information plaque for visitors about the Untersberg cave system and their historic circumstances, near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: A view of the Untersberg peak, near to an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: General view of the Untersberg peak, near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: General view of the Untersberg peak, near an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
MARKTSCHELLENBERG, GERMANY - JUNE 16: In this handout image supplied by the Bavarian mountain patrol 'Bergwacht Bayern', Rescue workers transport injured spelunker Johann Westhauser from 700 meters underground towards the surface of the Riesending cave on June 16, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. Westhauser, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured 1,000 meters underground on June 8. Since then specialist rescue workers from across Europe are helping with the arduous rescue effort, which will likely take at least several more days. (Photo by Bergwacht Bayern via Getty Images)
BERCHTESGADEN, GERMANY - JUNE 11: A view of the Untersberg peak, near to an underground cave where an explorer is lying injured 1,000 meters below on June 11, 2014 near Marktschellenberg, Germany. The man, along with two colleagues, was exploring the Riesending vertical cave, which is over 20km long and up to 1,148 meters deep, when he was struck by rocks and severely injured. Since then specialist rescue workers from Switzerland and Italy have arrived to help with the arduous rescue effort, which could take up to several more days and even weeks. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - An injured explorer trapped in Germany's deepest cave system for 12 days was finally brought to the surface on Thursday after a complex rescue operation, Bavaria's mountain rescue service said.

Johann Westhauser, a 52-year old speleologist, injured his head in a rock fall on June 8 and was unable to climb back to the surface on his own as the ascent involved steep shafts and narrow tunnels.

The rescue took so long to complete because the injured man could not stand and the ascent involves steep and narrow horizontal and vertical shafts.

"He left the cave at 11.44 a.m. (0944 GMT)," said a rescue service spokesman, adding that medics were looking after him.

Injured Explorer Rescued From Deep German Cave After 12 Days

Some 70 rescue workers were in the cave to help recover the man while further teams, along with doctors, were waiting above ground, the local mountain rescue service said.

The man was one of the researchers who discovered the Riesending or "massive thing" cave system. Located near Bavaria's border with Austria, it is 1,148 meters deep and has tunnels, shafts and caves extending over 19.2 kilometers.

It normally takes 12 hours to climb from the site of the accident to the surface.

(Reporting by Marcus Nagle; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Stephen Brown)

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