Spanish diver survives 60 hours in air bubble after equipment malfunction

Spanish diver Xisco Garcia rescued after 60 hours in a small underground cave in Mallorca.
Spanish diver Xisco Garcia rescued after 60 hours in a small underground cave in Mallorca.PHOTO: TWITTER/112ILLESBELEARS

MALLORCA - A Spanish diver survived more than two days in an underground air pocket, nearly running out of oxygen before he was rescued.

Mr Xisco Gracia's air tank malfunctioned in a cave in Mallorca on Saturday (April 15), the BBC said, quoting Spanish reports.

His diving buddy, Guillem Mascaró, left him to seek help.

The experienced speleologist and geographer sat in the dark, about 40m below the surface, for the 60 hours rescuers took to reach him. He had a small pool of fresh water which he drank from, but became discouraged after many hours passed.

"I lost track of time. I thought it had been five days, too long, so I thought (my friend) could not get out and could not find me," Mr Gracia, who in his 50s, told Diario de Mallorca in Spanish.

He said that he had hallucinations.

"After so long breathing an air so charged with carbon dioxide, I sometimes saw some things, like lights or bubbles, and I thought (someone) had come to rescue me - but when they did not arrive, I was discouraged," he said.

The rescue efforts was hampered by the poor visibility in the water, which was "like cocoa", the report said.

Rescuers had tried to drill a hole through the rocks to pass him food and water, but the attempt failed.

Mr Garcia and his colleague were examining the topography of the cave when the incident happened.

Mr Enrique Ballesteros, of the Underwater Activities Task Force of Barcelona, told news agency EFE: "They could have tried to stretch one (diver's) air, but surely that would have been suicide and both would have died."

Mr Gracia, an experienced diver and an expert in caves, according to local media, was rescued at about midnight on Monday.

The cavity he was found in was nearly 3,000 metres from the entrance of the cave, known as the Cova de sa Piqueta in Manacor, the Mirror reported.

He was kept in hospital overnight, but appears to be uninjured.

The local Guardia Civil said they would review the event to see if any lessons could be learned, BBC reported.