Update: Spanish caver dies, two friends found alive

ONE of three Spanish cavers who were found after a massive search in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco died on Saturday, but rescuers were able to save two of his friends, officials said.

“The two persons who were injured received first aid and were evacuated to a hospital, but the third caver has unfortunately died.”

MAP news agency reported, local officials in Ouarzazate as saying: “The trio fell from a cliff several hundred metres high in the Tarmest region.”

Spanish media identified the three as 26-year-old lawyer Gustavo Virues, policemen Juan Bolivar and Jose Antonio Martinez, both 41.

Emergency services had earlier in the day launched an operation to rescue the three Spaniards after finding them alive days after they were reported missing. It was not immediately known which of the three men had died.

They were part of a group of nine Spaniards who had split up on Sunday to explore different caves and were later due to meet in Ouarzazate in southern Morocco.

By Tuesday afternoon the three failed to show up as planned, triggering concern among their fellow cavers who alerted the authorities.

Zoubir Bouhour, head of the Ouarzazate regional tourism agency said: “The geography of the region doesn’t help, the terrain is rugged, and there is a lot of fog at the moment, and there are lots of cave entrances.” However, rescuers dispatched multiple helicopters to scour the area in hopes of finding the trio.

Despite 50 deaths per year, the region remains widely popular with caving and mountaineering enthusiasts from around the globe. Some come to conquer North Africa’s highest peak, the 13,600-foot high Jbel Toubkal. The high altitude of the range means snow typically stays on the mountains until mid-summer.


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