PAU, France (AFP) - A French hiker who fell into a crevice in the Pyrenees mountains and spent five nights trapped inside was found alive and relatively unscathed on Wednesday, police said.
"The man is conscious, he is talking and has a few injuries. It's a real miracle," said Sebastien Grandclement, head of the mountain police in the Oloron-Sainte-Marie area of southwestern France.
The man in his forties, whose named was not given, is thought to have fallen into the 10m-15m hole on Friday night.
He has been transferred to a nearby hospital to be treated for leg injuries and hypothermia.
The first indications the man gave them suggested he had spent five nights at the bottom of the snow-filled hole "and he has come out practically unharmed," said Grandclement.
The hiker set off alone on Friday from the village of La Pierre Saint-Martin.
A sizeable French and Spanish search party, including police, rescue workers and a helicopter, went to look for him the following day.
He was finally found on Wednesday morning, when members of the search party heard him "moaning" in response to their calls as they made their way along his suspected route.
Poor weather meant the rescue team operated "in difficult and dangerous conditions", said William Vaquette, head of the region's police paramilitary unit.