The cave in southwestern Virginia has more than seven miles of passages in it. The men had been planning to spend Saturday night inside the cave. The rain made the rock walls slippery and therefore difficult to climb. Authorities are working to get them out safely, according to Billy Chrimes, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. One of those men emerged from the cave on Sunday morning and issued an alert message. He said the others were exhausted and were starting to have problems with hypothermia.
The rescue teams have gone back inside to help the other four men. The rescue effort will likely take a considerable amount of time. “With cave rescue incidents, this has the potential to extend to eight to 12 hours, depending on what all is involved with getting the subjects out, and it may even extend beyond that just depending on the circumstances,” Chrimes estimated. About a dozen rescue workers are in the cave and about 20 are on standby.