Bergamo Speleologist Rescue: Challenges in the Face of Rain and Rocky Terrain

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Rescue Operation Intensifies for Trapped Speleologist in Fonteno Cave.


The effort to rescue a 31-year-old speleologist, who has been trapped 150 meters deep in the complex Bueno Fonteno cave, in the province of Bergamo, is now in its third day. This challenging rescue operation, taking place deep below the earth’s surface, has been increasingly intricate due to environmental conditions. Over 60 proficient speleologists from the National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps (CNSAS) from various regions including Lombardy, Veneto, Piedmont, Trentino, South Tyrol, and Emilia Romagna are currently on the scene, engaged in the demanding extraction process.

Ottavia Piana, the trapped speleologist, ventured into the cave with four other members from the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) of Lovere. Their mission was to investigate a new ascending route in the massive cave system, a task abruptly halted by a distressing accident.

Piana, who works as a secretary in her family’s business, had embraced the challenging field of speleology in 2016. The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon when a rock to which Piana had attached her safety equipment unexpectedly dislodged, causing her to fall and injure her leg severely. This unfortunate accident instantly escalated the gravity of the situation.

Two of her team members ascended to seek help, while the remaining two stayed with Piana, providing much-needed support and first aid. Overnight, Piana was attended by medical and speleological rescue technicians who helped maintain her stable condition in this precarious situation.

The intricate structure of the Bueno Fonteno cave adds another layer of complexity to this operation. The cave’s narrow, damp passages, coupled with several vertical descents, including a 55-meter pit, make navigation difficult. In one such descent, a waterfall has been harnessed by the rescue team, aiding their progression deeper into the cave.

Bergamo Speleologist Rescue
© Corpo nazionale soccorso alpino e speleologico

Heavy rain throughout the night has further complicated matters, as it caused flooding within the cave, intensifying the flow over the vertical drops and making the area above the 50-meter pit unreachable.

Yet, despite these obstacles, the Alpine Rescue team is painstakingly working to move the stretcher through a winding passage, a meander leading up to a series of small cascades close to the cave’s exit. Continuous communication is being maintained with a doctor and a nurse to ensure Piana’s health is closely monitored during this operation.

Approximately ten technical experts from the sixth delegation of the Orobic area are also involved, preparing the external part of the cave for when the stretcher carrying Piana exits.

First discovered in 2006, the Bueno Fonteno cave spans over 35 kilometers and continues to be a site of exploration. With many of its sections yet to be charted, the rescue team is navigating the unknown, adding another level of difficulty to the operation.

Bergamo Speleologist Rescue
© Corpo nazionale soccorso alpino e speleologico

This challenging situation reflects the tenacity and determination of the rescue teams, who remain steadfast in ensuring Piana’s safe return to the surface. Each moment is crucial in this critical operation, highlighting the power of teamwork, skill, and unwavering dedication that unites teams across regions to save a fellow speleologist.

As the world watches, hope remains that by afternoon, the successful extraction of Piana from the depths of the Fonteno cave will be a reality.

Topics: Cave rescue in Bergamo, Alpine Rescue operation, Speleologist trapped in Fonteno cave, Emergency services in Bergamo, Rescue challenges due to rainfall, Subterranean rescue complexities, Emergency medical aid for trapped speleologist, Navigating narrow cave passages, Overcoming adversities in rescue operation, Injured speleologist in Bergamo.


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