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Five men who were trapped in a cave in Virginia have been rescued

Posted: 2:11 PM, Apr 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-28 19:11:00-04
They wanted to explore a cave in Virginia. Now they're trapped.

Five men who were trapped in a cave in southwest Virginia have been rescued, authorities said.

Four of the men were taken to a local hospital, said Jess Powers, emergency management coordinator for Russell County.

The other man was taken to Bristol Regional Medical Center in Tennessee, he said.

Rescuers raced against the clock Sunday to save the group.

Six men in total entered the cave in Cleveland on Friday around 7 p.m., said Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

One of those men emerged from the cave on Sunday morning around 2 a.m., Chrimes said.

That man told authorities that the others were having difficulty getting out. He said they were exhausted and were starting to have problems with hypothermia.

Authorities announced early Sunday afternoon that one man had been rescued, followed by another a few hours later, then the rest shortly afterward.

What happened?

The five trapped men are between the ages of 34 and 59.

The cave where they were trapped is known as Cyclops Cave for the "bubble-like formation" referred to as the "eye" of the Cyclops, Powers said.

The cave is popular with explorers, although it is on private property. Tony Smith, who owns a cattle ranch next to the caves, told CNN affiliate WJHL there are five big caves stretching for around 9 miles.

The group was planning to camp in the cave until Sunday, Powers said. A heavy downpour Saturday night made conditions muddy and wet and likely contributed to their difficulties, he said.

The group did not have a lot of extra food or water, Chrimes said.

The temperature underground was in the 50s, which can be comfortable under normal circumstances, but can contribute to hypothermia when you're not active and moving, Chrimes said.