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Climber trapped in New Zealand cave

August 26, 2007|From the Associated Press

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — A rescue team headed deep underground today to aid a cave climber with a broken leg who was trapped after a rockslide in New Zealand, police said.

The climber, stranded 1.8 miles from the cave's entrance on South Island, had suffered head and leg injuries in the "Middle Earth" cave system in the town of Nelson, rescue coordinator Sgt. Mike Fitzsimmons said.

Nelson is 80 miles west of the capital, Wellington.

Two men with the four-member caving group took six hours to climb out to raise the alarm, he said. The other member stayed with the injured man.

Fitzsimmons said a rescue team of five, including a doctor, went underground this morning to aid the local man, about 40 years old, whose name was not released.

About 50 cave climbers from around the country will join the rescue operation to bring the man out, an effort expected to take up to three days.

"We're still setting up radio communications, as we have communications going only part way into the [cave] system," police inspector Hugh Flower told National Radio.

"As it takes more than five hours to get in there . . . it takes quite a while to get it set up," he said.

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