LIMA – Spanish speleologist Cecilio Lopez Tercero, who was rescued after being trapped for 12 days in a jungle cave in Peru, expressed his gratitude on Saturday for all those who helped bring him to safety.
“I want to thank all the people who helped with the rescue: the Peruvian government, the Spanish Embassy, the army, everyone,” the speleologist said in a press conference at the Anglo Americana Clinic, where he has been undergoing treatment since arriving in Lima on Tuesday.
Lopez explained the complexity of the rescue effort after he suffered an accident inside the Intimachay cave, located in the Leymebamba district in a remote area of the Peruvian Amazon.
He said the accident, in which he fell from a height of about five meters (16 feet) on Sept. 18 and was left trapped 400 meters (1,300 feet) underground, was the first he had suffered in more than 20 years of exploring and studying caves, adding that regrettably it occurred in “one of the worst places for it to happen.”
The speleologist said the effort was complicated by, among other things, the fact that nothing was known about the cave and the rescue teams had to “come from abroad” because of the lack of a specialized team in Peru.
The rescue operation was coordinated by a colonel from Peru’s Indeci emergency management agency and included the participation of around 60 Spanish speleologists, other experts from Italy, France and Mexico, and roughly 40 Peruvian soldiers and firefighters.
In the press conference, the hospital’s director said Lopez had sustained an incomplete fracture of his third lumbar vertebra but that the injury did not affect his spine and he is “in condition to be discharged and will continue his medical treatment in Spain.”