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Man (40s) trapped in Co Mayo cave in ‘good spirits’ as major rescue operation underway

Lifeboats are doing a check on the man every half hour and he is able to acknowledge that they are there

Stock photo

Eavan Murray, Seoirse Mulgrew and Tom ShielIndependent.ie

A man (40s) trapped in a sea cave in Co Mayo since yesterday has been described as being “in good spirits” as a major rescue operation remains underway.

Gardaí and emergency services remain at the scene of the ongoing operation in the Downpatrick Head area.

Speaking today to Independent.ie, Michael Hurst, Ballyglass Coastguard said: “It has been a long night for him.

“He is in good spirits. The lifeboats are doing a check on him every half an hour.

“They call into him, and he is able to acknowledge they are there and is able to move his arms and legs.

“He is high up. He is about three metres up in the cave so he is dry. He is very lucky.

“But it’s a case of he is so close, but yet so far.

“We have to ensure the safety of everyone.

“Where we are at the moment, we are waiting for low tide at 5pm.

“He was with a female partner, and from what we know they were kayaking in the area and decided on low water to walk around the cliffs.

“On very low water you can walk around the cliffs and people often get photos there.

“It was just a freak wave.

“He is an experienced cave rescuer himself he knows the area and the conditions. They just got caught in a freak wave.

“There were kayakers there who managed to grab her but unfortunately, he was pushing into the cave and was unable to come out.

“A lot of his colleagues are there now assisting with the rescue.”

It comes as a number of Coast Guard Units are currently at the scene along with the RNLI Lifeboat from Ballyglass, the Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter from Sligo, Mayo County Fire Service, Civil Defence and Irish Cave Rescue.

A spokesperson for Malin Head Coast Guard said it was tasked to the scene and the situation is ongoing.

“There’s a lot of agencies there this morning from coast guard to lifeboat to cliff rescue and gardaí. They’re hoping to get this man out soon,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard said the situation has been ongoing since it received an initial alert on Saturday afternoon.

“The rescue coordination sub centre at Malin Head is currently coordinating in collaboration with the other emergency services a rescue operation for a male trapped within a cave at Downpatrick Head on the North Mayo coast,” the spokesperson said.

“The conditions on scene are described as good and the operation is ongoing at present.”

Garda Superintendent Gabriel Moran explained at the rescue scene a short while ago that the pair got into difficulties when they were swept off a ledge by a wave surge last evening.

“The male managed to get onto a ledge where he has remained overnight.

“We have been able to maintain contact with him overnight and throughout this morning.

“We are working on a number of options as to how best to rescue him.”


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