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Science

Saved from Riesending cave system, Westhauser is recovering in Bavaria

Seriously injured cave researcher, Johann Westhauser, is doing better than expected after being rescued Thursday from Germany's deepest cave. In a video, Westhauser thanked his rescuers.

Volker Bühren, head physician at the Murnau trauma center, said on Friday that Johann Westhauser was speaking in complete sentences and on the road to recovery after a rescue effort that lasted nearly two weeks.

Until Thursday, the 52-year-old cave researcher had been trapped 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) underground after sustaining head injuries in a June 8 rockfall while he was exploring the Riesending cave system, Germany's deepest cave.

"For us, that is an outstanding condition in light of the delineated progression of events," Bühren said at a press conference. He added, however, that despite this "small miracle," Westhauser would require extensive recovery. In a video shown at the press briefing, Westhauser thanked his rescuers, which included teams from Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

Bühren said he expects Westhauser to spend about two weeks in the trauma center, including an operation next week for a cheekbone fracture, and then undergo several months of rehabilitation.

The doctor said Westhauser did have swelling in the area of the brain where he had hit his head, but "with time, that will clearly improve."

Bühren added, "He even knew it was the World Cup," referring to the international football tournament that began when Westhauser was severely injured and trapped in the cave. "He didn't want to know the results."

mkg/hc (AFP, dpa)

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