Race to save 3 trapped in cave

Rescue teams in central Crete yesterday intensified a search for three speleologists trapped for three days 140 meters underground in a flooded cave in the mountains south of Iraklion. Yesterday, officials coordinating the search effort said a third person, Victoria Dukmasova, a Russian graduate student at the University of Crete, was believed to have descended into the Sarchos Cave with Methodios Psomas, 35, and Chryssa Mavrocosta. The two, both expert speleologists, had entered the cave – near the village of Sarchos on Mount Ida, some 20 kilometers south of Iraklion – on Saturday to map its subterranean lake and river network. But torrential rains flooded the cave, and, when Psomas and Mavrocosta failed to emerge on Saturday, rescuers were called in. Firemen and speleologists, assisted yesterday by navy frogmen, reached a flooded chamber 1.2 kilometers from the cave’s mouth, but attempts to pump out water were foiled by a steady flow of rainwater. The three, who had taken blankets and ample food supplies, are believed to be at the other end of a narrow, 12-meter tunnel currently blocked by sand.

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