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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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At the end of last year, we told you about the flash flood on the river outside the Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves where courageous tour guides rescued almost 200 tourists trapped by a flash flood on the Roaring Creek River.

Well, this morning it was even more scary; between 80 and 100 tourists almost got trapped inside the ATM caves when the water in there started to rise suddenly. It was a scary situation which could have gotten very dangerous were it not for the capable rescue work of the 12 tour guides who were there.

Alexie Trujillo from Chaa Creek was one of the first to go in around 10:00, and quickly detected that the water flow inside the cave was too heavy. Via phone - he told us that from there, he and the other guides didn't have time to think, they just had to act decisively:

Voice of: Alexie Trujillo, ATM Tour Guide
"We journey in the cave for approximately a little bit over a kilometre, but we spent about 500 meters in the river, in the water inside the cave and when I was like about maybe 400 meters into the cave I started noticing on the wall of the cave a lot of water draining coming down and the sound of the water started to change - got a little louder. So thats when I told my guests we have to pick up the paste and we need to move forward, because I had that feeling that the water was rising and so we were be heading up the dry chamber where all of those human remains are and all the different relics. Being up at the dry chamber like 5 minutes, all of a sudden the sound of the water also got a little louder, so I realize that things were not looking right down there."

"I completed my tour, it took me like 45 minutes. By the time I start coming down some of the guides were coming up and they were the ones that alerted me that there was a flood. So my friend and I decided to work together and use our skills of swift water rescue and we decided to evacuate the first group out. We managed to get our guests safely out of the cave, but the water was coming down a little bit, so it was a little challenging."

"In this situation it's not about thinking too much - go right into action and do what you have to do. And as we were walking down there some comments saying oh we remember the story of the Thailand caves when they were stuck in a cave. So, I told then don't worry. We knew what we were doing, so we manage to get them out. They were very happy; they were very grateful with us."

Jules Vasquez
"How do you compare this to the situation that happened around Christmas where again, you all had a flooding situation on the outside. This one was on the inside, but how do you compare these 2 situations?"

Voice of: Alexie Trujillo, ATM Tour Guide
"The Christmas one was a little safer, because its the jungle, so you can find different routes. But now if you're in a cave where the water level is rising - you just have to find a way - climb up different ledges, just try to get out. And of course, we look at the water that is pushing and the idea is like yeah if you could do it, but what about the people behind you, are they fit enough to do what you can do, so you always think about your guests before you think about yourself. The cave was a little challenging, but its all about using the skills we were taught."

Jules Vasquez
"I have to say you're a consummate professional. You sound so even-tempered. I imagine the adrenaline must have been very high in your system."

Voice of: Alexie Trujillo, ATM Tour Guide
"Yes, sir. That's what my guests told me when we came out. I told them, listen, yes I know people were concerned, but at the end of the day a little adrenaline rush is good and also we just out of a place that could have been a worse case scenario and we just have to celebrate and be happy that we are alive, we made it out alive - just another day at the office."

Trujillo says that by 1:00 pm everyone was safe and secure on dry land - with no injuries. He says he had never seen the caves quite as flooded as they were today.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,398
Marty Offline OP
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Institute of Archaeology Clarification on Recent Flooding Incident at the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave in the Cayo District

The Institute of Archaeology (IA) of the National Institute of Culture and History wishes to clarify the details of a reported flooding incident that occurred at the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave in the Cayo District on Monday, January 9, 2023.

Park staff at the ATM Cave reported normal river conditions in their daily 6 AM river status checks. The Cave was, therefore, opened for normal business operations with visitors and tour guides arriving on site by approximately 8:30 AM and proceeding on their tours.

At approximately 11 AM, park staff monitoring the river alerted the park manager of a small increase in the river level. This information was communicated to the IA Office in Belmopan and park staff was also dispatched into the cave to alert tour guides of the situation. All visitors and tour guides safely exited the cave, some having completed the tours and others aborting their tour due to the possibility of flood conditions. There were no injuries nor further incidents reported while guests exited the cave.

By 2 PM, all 150 visitors and tour guides were safely accounted for at the Ranger Station. At no time during this event was any visitor or tour guide trapped within the cave as was reported by some local media.

The Institute of Archaeology and its partners assures the general public that the safety and well-being of our visitors, tour guides. and staff, remain of the utmost priority. We remain committed to safeguarding Belize's archaeological destinations for the benefit of the Belizean tourism product and out nation's cultural patrimony.

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