RABAT – A second Spanish speleologist died in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains on Sunday just as seven of his countrymen with specialized skill in mountain rescue operations arrived at the site of the accident that had killed a companion the day before.
Jose Antonio Martinez Jimenez, a 41-year-old police inspector, and Gustavo Virues, a lawyer of the same age from the southern Spanish city of Cadiz died after an accident while climbing down into and exploring a “pothole” or deep abyss in southern Morocco.
A third caver, also a police officer, Juan Bolivar Bueno, 27, was rescued from within the abyss.
Spanish diplomatic sources said that Bolivar, who is “physically well,” although he is said to be suffering from hypothermia and post-traumatic stress, was able to extract himself from the abyss by himself, although the rescuers – from Spain’s Guardia Civil and National Police – were on hand to help him, if need be.
He will be transferred to the town of Ouarzazate, where there is a hospital, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.
The bodies of Bolivar’s two companions are located at the bottom of an abyss 400 meters (about 1,300 feet) deep, with very narrow walls and so extracting them will be very risky and difficult, sources said.
Some 140 officers with Morocco’s Gendarmerie were also on hand at the site of the incident, as well as health officials and other authorities.
The three climbers were part of a nine-man group belonging to Andalusia’s regional Mountaineering Federation, all of whom are very experienced and used to hazardous excursions.