Diver trapped in underwater cave for 60 hours thought he’d never be found

A Spanish scuba diver whose tank malfunctioned emerged with his rescuers from an underwater cave on the island of Mallorca after spending 60 hours trapped in an air pocket while his diving partner went for help, the BBC reported Wednesday.

“I had the feeling that five days had passed, so I thought my friend had not been able to leave the cave to ask for help and that then they would never find me,” Xisco Gracia told PrimiciaWeb.es.

Gracia and Guillem Mascaro were exploring the underwater cave on the Spanish island located in the Mediterranean on Saturday around noon when things went horribly wrong.

They were 130 feet deep and about 2,950 feet from the entrance when Gracia’s tank stopped working. Fortunately Gracia found an air pocket where he could wait while Mascaro summoned help.

But that help didn’t arrive until around midnight on Monday.

“After so long breathing an air so charged with carbon dioxide, I sometimes saw some things, like lights or bubbles, and I thought [someone] had come to rescue me, but when they did not arrive, I was discouraged,” Gracia told the Diario de Mallorca.

Gracia spent most of his time in total darkness, conserving his flashlight power to help him drink water from a lake.

Unbeknownst to Gracia, Mascaro did manage to make his way out of the cave to summon help, and he did know exactly where he left Gracia.

“The problem was getting there because the water was very cloudy,” Mascaro told Diario de Mallorca. “It was like diving in a bowl of cocoa.”

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The speleologist, who spent a night in a hospital for observation before being released, is described as one of the “greatest specialists in submarine caverns of the island.”

Which might help explain the prudent decision he and his diving partner made when Gracia’s tank malfunctioned.

“They could have tried to stretch one [diver’s] air, but surely that would have been suicide and both would have died,” Enrique Ballesteros of the Underwater Activities Task Force of Barcelona told the EFE news agency, according to the BBC.