A 52-year-old German explorer who was injured in a fall deep inside an Alpine cave is well enough for the evacuation process to begin, rescuers said.
Researcher Johann Westhauser has been stuck 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) underground since suffering head injuries in a rock fall on Sunday inside the Riesending cave system near the town of Berchtesgaden in southern Germany.
The head of the rescue operation said doctors have given the go-ahead for Mr Westhauser to be stretchered out, a difficult process that will take days because of the narrow shafts and vertical lifting involved.
Andreas Wolf said that some 30 rescuers from Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland are in the cave preparing the evacuation.
Mr Westhauser was with two colleagues when the rock fall happened some 6,000 metres from the entrance.