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Two records and a drama that kept Europe in suspense: the Riesending shaft cave in Bavaria

2024-03-02T16:15:00.564Z

Highlights: Two records and a drama that kept Europe in suspense: the Riesending shaft cave in Bavaria. The cave near the Schellenberger Forest is considered the deepest and longest cave in the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2014, researcher Johann Westhauser was seriously injured while exploring the massive cave system. His life was hanging by a thread at the time - and the whole world was following his attempts to save him. As a result of further expeditions, the cave continued to grow, gaining further depth and length.



As of: March 2, 2024, 5:01 p.m

By: Felix Herz

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The Riesending shaft cave in Berchtesgadener Land is not only the deepest and longest cave in Germany - in 2014 it also became the center of a drama that attracted attention across Europe.

© picture alliance / dpa |

BRK/Bavarian Mountain Rescue

It is considered the deepest and longest cave in Germany: the Riesending Shaft Cave.

In 2014 she even made it into the global headlines.

Bayerisch Gmain – In the south of Bavaria, in Berchtesgadener Land near the German-Austrian border, lies the Riesending Shaft Cave.

According to the story, it gets its name from the astonished exclamation of a researcher upon its discovery,

writes

geo.de.

The name fits - because to this day the cave near the Schellenberger Forest is considered the deepest and longest cave in the Federal Republic of Germany.

But it also makes it into the history books for another reason.

Cave dramas always attract worldwide attention

Cave dramas in the recent past

Every now and then, cave dramas take place that attract worldwide attention and emotionally thrill people around the globe - the risky rescues often last several days.

Be it the drama in Thailand around six years ago, when an entire football team was trapped in a cave.

Or the comparable tragedy that occurred in Chile more than ten years ago, when workers were buried in a cave.

And just last year, a researcher was trapped in a cave in Turkey for nine days - he was rescued.

The Riesending Shaft Cave in Bavaria also made headlines around the world when researcher Johann Westhauser was seriously injured while exploring the massive cave system in 2014.

His life was hanging by a thread at the time - and the whole world was following his attempts to save him.

(By the way: Our Bavaria newsletter informs you about all the important stories from the Free State. Sign up here.)

Helpers from all over Europe, a rescue like no other: the giant thing accident

At the beginning of June 2014, the four researchers Florian Schwarz, Thomas Matthalm, Ulrich Meyer and Johann Westhauser were traveling in the Riesending shaft cave in Berchtesgadener Land.

But on the way towards the exit, an accident happened - a stone slab, according to

geo.de

the size of a thick tome, came off and hit Westhauser in the head.

Normally, 1,000 meters underground and with millions of tons of rock between the injured person and the surface, this is tantamount to a death sentence.

But not in this case.

Among other things, Westhauser's colleagues reacted "unbelievably", as Lars Abromeit explains to

geo.de

in an interview: "Johann's companions reacted perfectly, they did incredible things in first aid, for example initially giving the accident victim only 0.5 liters of water boiled again and again, protected from freezing.”

But the rescuers - according to

spiegel.de

more than 700 from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Croatia - also achieved incredible things in the eleven days that Westhauser lay seriously injured in the cave.

In the end, the then 53-year-old was saved and ultimately survived the drama without any lasting damage - although he had to be resuscitated eight times (!) during the rescue.

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The Giant Thing Shaft Cave today: Still not fully explored

The drama surrounding Westhauser did not bring research into the giant thing shaft cave to a standstill.

As a result of further expeditions, the cave continued to grow, gaining further depth and length.

Lehmpfuhl.org

writes that a further increase in depth is not likely because “the cave plunges into the phreatic zone”.

Expeditions in 2022 caused the total length to increase again - to currently (as of October 2022) 23,667 meters.

In addition, the film “The Giant Thing: 20,000 Meters Under the Earth” was released in cinemas in 2021.

The cave is currently closed to visitors - after the accident, they wanted to prevent curious people from venturing into the 23 kilometer long cave

.

(fhz)

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Source: merkur

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