Virginia cave rescue: 5 men freed from Cyclops Cave in southwest Virginia

/ CBS News

Men trapped in Virginia cave

A cave rescue by emergency crews in Virginia on Sunday afternoon brought a group of five men back to safety, CBS affiliate WJHL-TV reports. The group, between the ages of 34 and 59-years-old, became trapped in a cave in southwest Virginia, about 180 miles east of Roanoke.

Russell County EMA Director Jess Powers told WJHL-TV that six men entered Cyclops Cave on Saturday with an intention of camping. One man was able to escape and alert authorities to the situation. The rescue began at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and wrapped up around 6 p.m.

Remaining 3rd, 4th, and 5th men all rescued. All have been rescued successfully at this time. Rescue personnel retrieving equipment and beginning demobilization efforts. Very proud of all rescue personnel from multiple local and state groups and agencies.

— Jeff Stern (@SternJD) April 28, 2019

Apparently heavy rainfall hit the cave once they became trapped, making it more difficult for then trapped men to escape on their own. At the time rescuers arrived, the men were suffering from fatigue and hypothermia. Officials said the men were 120 feet deep and did not come equipped with proper climbing gear.

"When you stop moving and aren't able to get up and move around or you run out of energy, that can cause problems with hypothermia," Billy Chrimes of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.

According to WJHL-TV, The American Red Cross from Bristol, Cleveland Life Saving Crew, Lebanon Fire Department and Cleveland Fire Department were on scene, which has been confirmed to be a private property.

WJHL-TV spoke with property owner Frankie Smith who said this is the first time someone has gotten stuck in the cave, which is 2 miles long, and that the men did not have permission to enter.

A photograph of the Cyclops Cave where five men became trapped Sun., April 28, 2019. Frankie Smith via WJHL-TV

This is a developing story. Please check back for latest updates.

First published on April 28, 2019 / 5:05 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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