Monday, Oct 4, 4:30 PM ET
Eric Establie, a French cave diver who left on a difficult exporation dive Sunday morning (French time = + 6 hours from our Eastern US time), has not returned. The cave (Dragonnière de Gaud near Labastide de Virac, in the Ardèche region, France) is a difficult cave, with depth requiring decompressions, a yo-yo profile, muddy walls and floors that can degrade visibility. Eric was planning on pursuing exploration at the current end, 1040 meters inside the cave, at -42 m depth, but behind two low spots at -87 and -70 meters. His dive was to last 6 hours. He carried two rebreathers, two scooters, and five air tanks, plus 450 meters of dive line.
An attempt to find Eric, made on Sunday evening to the -53 m level (a fixed line leads to this decompression station), was unsuccessful. Another attempt was being made this afternoon to the -87 m low spot. Special diving teams with experience in difficult dives, one from Great Britain (Rick Staunton, John Volanthen, and maybe one more) and one from Switzerland (Pedro, André, Hans, Gigi), are flying to France this evening to help with the rescue tomorrow morning.
There is hope that Eric is waiting in an air bell or between two sumps. Hang in there, Eric.
Update Tuesday Oct 5, 10 AM ET:
Reconnaissance divers who had gone to 450 meters from the entrance yesterday returned without having found Eric.
The British and Swiss rescue divers arrived on site early this morning. Two British divers will enter the cave around 3 pm French time (9 am US ET) and go to the end of known exploration at 1040 m. They are taking along first aid, food, and heat packs, and are expected to return within 5 to 7 hours. A second team of Swiss cave divers is ready to go in if needed.
We’ll know more around 10 pm (4 pm US ET).