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.
The coordination of the rescue was started by the Gömör-Tornai Territorial Unit of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service on Sunday afternoon. On the second day, in addition to the volunteers, the government services also started to take part, and then the Counter-Terrorism Centre (TEK) took over the coordination of the rescue. The units of the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) assisted the rescue process in a number of ways, not only providing the logistical and organizational background for the rescue, but also taking care of those personnel who took part in the rescue. We also thank them for their professional help in organising the meeting with the representatives of organizations and companies that had special knowledge that may have assisted us in the rescue.
. The Pest County Search and Rescue Service provided the infrastructural foundations for the camp and rescue for a week, in addition to continuously assisting the work of the divers.
In the course of the one week of the rescue, 20 organizations, with more than 250 personnel, participated in the activities inside and outside of the cave. These organisations were: directorate of Aggteleki National Park , Amphora Diving Club Bakonyi Cave Rescue Service North Hungarian Association of Cave Rescuers, BME Geoinform Ltd, Geogold Kárpátia Ltd., Institute of Oil and Natural Gas (Kőolaj és Földgáz Intézet), Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, University of Miskolc Faculty of Geology, Dept. Of Geophysics, the rescue team of the Neptun Diving Club, Nitrokémia private-Ltd, Nova-Alpin Ltd., Pest county Search and Rescue Service, Rotaqua Ltd., Rotary Fúrási private-Ltd, Szathmáry Zsolt - Havária Disaster management Public Benefit Association, Speleo Roznava (SK), Counter - Terrorism Centre.
We would also like to thank the Municipality of Jósvafő and its residents, who supported our efforts with accommodation, hot food and gave us many other helpful services.
The underwater part of the rescue was done by cave divers of the Amphora Diving Club, who have been exploring the Kossuth Cave for decades. They made 9 cave dives last week, and finally managed to take the body to the entrance to the “Reménytelen” Sump by this morning. From this point onward the cave rescuers service made the rest of the job. The dives were made extremely difficult by the fact that the divers had to work in great depths for long periods of time, in narrow passages and in limited visibility.
In addition to the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, the North Hungarian Association of Cave Rescuers, the cave rescuers of the Bakonyi Cave Rescue Service and Speleo Roznava (Slovakia) were present at the rescue with about 80 participants. During the rescue operation, the cave rescue service transported all the equipment needed by the divers, and built additional cable transport paths for the cave rescue, as well as reinforced the fixed steel cables. The final rescue team composed of 50-person from these domestic cave rescue services managed to bring the body of the deceased diver out of the cave from the sump in less than 3 hours. The water level of the 50-meter-long lake in the Kossuth Cave was raised by a temporary artificial dam, so that the stretcher may float on the surface of the water above the installed wire ropes. The stretcher was finally brought to the entrance of the cave at 2 p.m.
The unfortunate diver had decades of sports and cave diving experience as well as an extensive background in cave exploration. The 42 year old Márton Mede was the heart of the Kossuth Cave exploration, having been part of the many successful discoveries of the past decade.
His loss is an inconceivable tragedy to our community. R.I.P.
Hungarian Cave Rescue Service