Nineteen people were rescued Thursday after a flash food trapped them in a Kentucky Cave, officials said.
Around 10 a.m., 19 Clemson University students entered the cave on a guided tour with four tour guides, said B.J. Eaton, Public Affairs Officer for the Kentucky State Police in Bowling Green. Afternoon thunderstorms around 2 p.m. produced flash flooding, which caused rising water to cut off passages and access points at the Hidden River Cave and American Cave Museum, said Kerry McDaniel, Hart County emergency management director.
Two officers from the Horse Cave Police Department entered the cave around 3 p.m. in attempt to make contact with the stranded group, when they were met with four people making their way out, Eaton said.
The students were accompanied by experienced guides, who brought them to a safe passage with a higher ceiling known as the "Attic Room." They stood by in the Attic Room but decided to attempt to make their way out as the water continued to rise, Eaton said.
There is no cell service in the cave, and no one could hear the people who were trapped, McDaniel said.
Everyone exited the cave by 4:30 p.m. without injury, Eaton said, adding that the tour guide was able to lead them to safety.
The cave sits under the town of Horse Cave. Three dive teams responded to the scene, and officials initially thought it could take anywhere from 12 to 14 hours before a rescue attempt could be made due to the rough river currents, McDaniel said.
Some people were trapped as far as five miles in the cave, McDaniel said.