Five tourists have been rescued after spending 26 hours 200 feet underground after an elevator broke down in the Grand Canyon caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jon Paxton told CNN that “five people were coming out of the caves when the elevator stopped working. Believing it to be an electrical problem, a generator was brought in. It’s not an electrical problem. It’s a mechanical problem.”
The group of five stayed in a motel suite deep in the cave. The tourist attraction is located about 65 miles northeast of Kingman, Mr Paxton added.
“The Cavern put people up in a motel, and there’s a little restaurant downstairs, and the motel tries to make people as comfortable as possible while they’re there,” he said. told CNN before the rescue.
Although there were 21 flights of stairs leading down, including platforms and ladders, a number of those trapped were unable to ascend.
“We have a search and rescue team on standby as well as a hoist to lift people up if repairs take longer than expected or if people are not comfortable staying there,” Mr Paxton said during the ordeal.
The rescue team ended up lifting the people from the cave, according to ABC15.
All the tourists had been rescued by 8pm on Monday – three others had been rescued earlier.
Sherry Jimenez spent nearly 30 hours in the caves.
“I can’t say thank you enough because they did everything so professionally, so safely,” she told ABC.
The rescue operations lasted about 25 minutes each.
The tourists said they entered the caverns around noon on Sunday to join a tour lasting around half an hour.
The Grand Canyon Caverns website states that the caverns “were created over 65 million years ago” and were “formed in limestone that was once the bottom of an ancient inland sea that divided North America”.
They are the “largest dry caverns” in the United States, the site says.
Although there are accommodations on the ground floor, the site says that downstairs you can “experience the deepest, darkest and quietest hotel room in the world” .
The Independent Gt