World’s largest cave could be even bigger than previously thought
Published : Thursday, 11 April, 2019 at 6:06 PM Count : 427
The world's largest cave may be bigger than previously thought, says a British diving team exploring an uncharted tunnel within the cave that may link to other chambers.
The mysteries of central Vietnam's Sơn Đoòng cave are being plumbed by three of the divers who helped rescue a football team trapped in a Thai cave last year.
Should Sơn Đoòng link to other chambers, it would become 'easily the largest cave in the world and it would never be overtaken,' said dive organiser Howard Limbert.
The three divers - Chris Jewell, Jason Mallinson and Rick Stanton - are best known for their role in helping to save 12 footballers and their coach who became trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand in late June 2018.
Trapped by rising floodwaters, the young team were forced to spend eighteen days in the cave before they could be freed.
Recent reports revealed that the youths were sedated with ketamine during the rescue operation to stave off the effects of hypothermia.
Mr Stanton, sent by the British Cave Rescue council. had discovered the team on a ledge in the cave on just over a week into the rescue operation.
Following their daring efforts, the diving trio were invited to explore the uncharted, waterlogged pit inside the Sơn Đoòng cave,
The painstaking task of getting the trapped team out of the tunnel safely helped to ready the diving trio for the mission in Vietnam, Mr Stanton said.
'Our planning and preparation is without parallel,' he added.
The trio dove down 252 feet (77 metres) into the pit, without reaching the bottom, before they were forced to turn back to avoid running out of oxygen.
They suspect that the tunnel could go as deep as 394 feet (120 metres).
The divers are planning a return expedition to Vietnam next year, where they hope to link the tunnel in Sơn Đoòng to another cave nearby.
Located in central Quang Binh province, Sơn Đoòng was first discovered by a local forager in 1991, but remained largely unexplored for the following 19 years until it was surveyed by Mr Limbert, an expert caver.
The thick surrounding jungle had successfully concealed the cave's entrance.
Sơn Đoòng is one of a number of caves in Vietnam's Phong Nha national park - only 30 per cent of which have so been explored to date.
So big that it has its own climate, subterranean river and even rain clouds, Sơn Đoòng is the world's largest cave, with a main passage that is 3 miles (5 kilometres) long and 650 feet (200 metres) high - easily tall enough to fit London's 41-floor 'Gherkin' skyscraper.
It is believed that the cave was fashioned out of the local limestone rocks between around 2 and 5 million years ago.-Daily Mail