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Injured caver on road to recovery

By Colin Francis

Doctors say they are satisfied with the condition of a cave researcher hauled out of Germany's deepest cavern after sustaining head injuries, although he will need a few months to recover fully.

Johann Westhauser was flown to Murnau Trauma Centre after his rescue from the Riesending cave on Thursday, nearly two weeks after being hit by a falling rock.

Doctors said the 52-year-old sustained skull and eye socket fractures, and some internal bleeding. In a video shown at a news conference, he appeared to have some difficulty speaking but the hospital said he will not need neurological surgery.

Medical director Volker Buehren said Mr Westhauser will stay two to four weeks at the clinic, then will need further therapy, with the healing process lasting three to six months.

A 700-strong multinational rescue operation was launched after he was injured by a rock fall more than 3,200ft underground on June 8. After lengthy preparations, rescue teams began the arduous task of hauling him up through a labyrinth of narrow passages and precipitous vertical shafts five days later.

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