On the 6 th of February 2023, unusually strong earthquakes shook the region around the Eastern Anatolian fault system. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake in the morning was followed by several equally devastating aftershocks.
The epicentre of the earthquakes was near Kahramanmaras in Turkey. The natural disaster also affected densely populated areas and large cities both in Syrian and in Turkey.
The rescue operations have not yet been completed, but the authorities coordinating the rescue have reported more than 30,000 deaths in addition to hundreds of thousands of injured.
Countries of the World immediately responded to the news of the earthquake, countless countries sent their special technical-rescue units, urban research-rescue teams, and medical units experienced in disaster management.
Many civilian and several state organizations set off from Hungary to participate in the rescue operations with their experience and knowledge, with specially trained dogs, and tools to help find the survivors trapped under the ruins of collapsed buildings and to help with their rescue and medical care.
On January 21, 2023, an extraordinary incident occurred during the "caver style" tour of the Mátyás-Hegyi cave: one of the participants (a man of about 50 years old, of average build) became ill at the "Wild Waters Path" section of the cave and it became obvious that he could not continue the hike. There it was discovered that the problem was due to insulin resistance.
In such cases, the guide will reverse the tour and escort the group of 9 out of the cave, or in more serious cases, alert the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service. This would have poiled the tour for the rest of the group, if they had to turn back. Fortunately, the tour leader knew that the Rescue Team was practicing in the cave, so he exploited the situation and asked them directly for help. Two minutes later, a small cave rescue team was right beside him, two of whom escorted the stranded hiker out of the cave.
If the Rescue Team had not been nearby, the guide would have been forced to interrupt the hike, either to escort the man out with the help of his fellow hikers and continue he hike (if the others had not given up), or, in a more serious case, to "sound the alarm" and wait for the Rescue Team to arrive.
The team members were happy with the quick help of the Rescue Service, as they were able to continue the tour with the others in a good mood.
Photo by Márton Kovács
On January 6, 2023, a group of cavers in the Mátyás Cave did not come out of the cave at the scheduled time, so the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service was alerted by the cavers' surface dispatchers.
The first group of the Rescue Service arrived at the cave in about half an hour, just as the caving group surfaced, safe and unharmed. They reported that they had had to take extra rests due to exhaustion and fatigue, and then proceeded slowly outwards, which meant that they did not surface at the previously agreed time.
Following the above, we moved back to base. All cave tours have surface assistance as there is no cell phone service in the cave. It is the job of the surface attendants to alert the rescue service if the group does not arrive on time.
The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service will continue to be on standby 24 hours a day and will be on the spot if an alarm is received. It does all this as a voluntary organisation, without any compensation.
Photo by András Hegedűs (Mátyás Cave, Giant's Passage)
On the 13th of August, 2022, a small group took part in am adventure tour in in the Mátyás-hegyi-cave in Budapest. The company made an approximately 2.5-hour long trip in a natural cave (not in a show cave built with concrete paths) with professional guidance of a cave tour guide.
In this part of the cave, you have to crawl and climb, in many places through narrower passages, in other places through small squeezes or on ledges. No caving experiences are required to participate in the tour.
Shortly after midday, at one of the climb, at the so-called "BETE leap-crossing" (BETE átlépő), a 28-year-old woman slipped and fell on her back. She complained that her pelvis was hurting. Due to the seriousness of the accident and the increasing pain, the tour guide requested the help of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service (BMSz).
The cave rescue service sent an alert (by SMS) to its members at 12:40 p.m. The cave rescuers in and around Budapest were summoned at the scene.
The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service arrived at the scene with sufficient rescue equipment. A group of doctors was the first to go down to the cave to treat the injured.
By that time, the injured person was already given first aid under the guidance of the tour guide: she was secured and protected against cold with insulation blankets (the temperature in the cave is 12 degrees Celsius).
The National Ambulance Service started the rescue at about 2PM. After stabilizing the injured right ankle, they asked for help in transporting the patient.
The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service approached the patient with 10 rescuers, alongside the firefighter units 4 person crew.
The patient was placed in a special mountain rescue stretcher and was transported using the aid of alpine rigging techniques.
The patient was transferred to the Hospital at 16:25 in good condition. We wish for a fast recovery!
Photo: Péter Adamkó, Károly Filei
On 26th of May 2022 at 15:10, the Dispatch Control Center of the National Ambulance Service requested help from the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service. At the "Kaán Károly" Lookout at the top of "Hárs Hegy" above "Szépjuhászné", a popular hiking spot on the outskirts of Budapest, a 14-year-old girl became ill during a class excursion, and was unable to continue the hike or even to get down from the mountain on her own.
The incident did not happen in a cave, but as it turns out, we can be called in to help quickly on the surface as well. We knew the location well (the famous "Bátori cave" opens here), so we knew that it was accessible by an all-terrain vehicle.
The BMSz all-terrain vehicle unit went to the scene, picked up and escorted the National Ambulance Service doctor and nurse to the casualty. The young lady was given an IV fluid on the spot and was then transported by all-terrain vehicle to the ambulance waiting at the foot of the hill.
We wish you a speedy recovery!
Photo by András Jenő Nagy
The longest rescue operation in the history of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service ended on at around 2 p.m on Sunday, the 10th of April 2022. After 7 days of search and rescue, the body of a cave diver who died on the 3rd of April during an exploratory dive was brought to the surface.
The body of the missing diver was found on Tuesday, at a considerable distance, about 250 meters, from the start of the dive, the entrance to the “Reménytelen” (Hopeless) Sump, at a depth of about 30 meters. The cause of the accident seems to be a collapse of the passage, the traces of which were discovered by the cave divers diving the next day, at a depth of -48 meters at the end of the known passage.
The terminal zone of the passage was filled up with muddy sediment and the diving guide rope was stuck beneath it. The possible signs indicating the collapse are being examined by the experts of the Aggtelek National Park by analysing the data of the karst water level registering well and the water flow meter at the “Nagy-Tohonya” spring.