Three Span­ish cavers miss­ing in Morocco

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Three Span­ish cav­ing en­thu­si­asts have gone miss­ing in Morocco’s High At­las moun­tains and in­ten­sive air and ground searches are un­der­way to find them, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and a Span­ish diplo­mat said Fri­day.

The men were part of a group of nine Spa­niards who had trav­eled to an area be­tween the cities of Mar­rakesh and Ouarza­zate and who split up on Sun­day to ex­plore dif­fer­ent caves, the sources said.

They were all sup­posed to have met up on Mon­day or Tues­day, but when the three failed to do so their col­leagues alerted the au­thor­i­ties.

The area in ques­tion in­cludes peaks of around 4,000 me­ters (13,125 feet) that have been cov­ered with snow from a heavy win­ter, and been sub­jected to a sud­den rise in tem­per­a­tures in re­cent days.

Zoubir Bouhour, head of the Ouarza­zate re­gional tourism or­ga­ni­za­tion, said an ex­ten­sive search had been launched, in­clud­ing with he­li­copters.

One of their com­pan­ions told Span­ish ra­dio Canal Sur the men may have been caught in a canyon by a flash flood caused by melt­ing snow.

The ra­dio sta­tion said the three men were all mem­bers of Spain’s An­dalu­sian Fed­er­a­tion of Moun­taineer­ing and were on Easter hol­i­days.

The High At­las, on the edge of the desert, is a wild green range fa­mous for its trekking trails and in­cludes the high­est peak in North Africa — Jbel Toubkal, at 4,167 me­ters.

It is not known for be­ing par­tic­u­larly danger­ous, although there can be flash floods in its many ravines fol­low­ing sud­den heavy thun­der­storms.

Last au­tumn, around 50 peo­ple were killed by sud­den flood­ing, no­tably at the foot of the moun­tains.

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