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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 21:33 GMT
British cavers hoping to return
Rescued caver in Mexico
Briton Charles Milton emerges from the Mexican cave
Six British cavers rescued from caverns in Mexico are hoping to fly home after sparking a diplomatic row.

The men, five of whom are in the military, are booked on a night flight to London but are being questioned at a detention centre over their visas.

President Vicente Fox said he was not satisfied by British explanations for their presence in the country.

The men were rescued on Thursday by a diving team, after being trapped for several days by unseasonable flooding.

We need more clarification about what this was about
President Vicente Fox
Mr Fox said Britain had not clarified answers to questions about the activities of the cavers.

"We received a reply to our request from Britain, but it is frankly unsatisfactory, we need more clarification about what this was about," he told a news conference in Nicaragua.

The Ministry of Defence has insisted the men were in Mexico as part of a military adventure training expedition and the clearance procedure for it would have been completed.

The cavers were said to be "bemused" to find their predicament had sparked a diplomatic row on both sides of the Atlantic.

Bemused

The six men were part of a 13-strong group from the Combined Services Caving Association.

The unfortunate thing is we got too much media attention
Jonathan Sims
Rescued caver

The trip, which began last Monday, was due to last 36 hours but the group got stuck after heavy rain raised the water level in the cave.

The men declined local offers of rescue, instead preferring to wait for two specialist British divers who flew to Mexico to escort them out.

None had suffered any injuries and had supplies of food and other equipment to keep them comfortable, plus communication equipment to maintain contact with their colleagues outside the cave.

Rescuer outside Mexican cave
Rescuers escorted the six men individually through the floodwaters

After they were brought out, they told reporters they were "looking forward to a good beer".

One of the group, Jonathan Sims, said they were never in danger and would have preferred to wait for the water to subside.

"The thing is, everything went as planned," he said.

"We thought we might have a problem with the (water) so we put in a plan, we had food in there, communications."

"The unfortunate thing is we got too much media attention."

Playing cards

They had spent part of the time awaiting rescuers by playing games with a deck of cards fashioned from a logbook.

Mexico complained it had not been told the military officers, who entered the country on tourist visas, were there.

Earlier on Friday Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell met the Mexican ambassador and thanked him for helping to get the cavers out safely.

"We respect the Mexican authorities need to clarify their immigration status," Mr Rammell said, adding that he hoped the incident "could be resolved as quickly as possible."





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SEE ALSO:
British cavers rescued in Mexico
25 Mar 04  |  Americas
Trapped cavers reject criticism
25 Mar 04  |  Americas
UK cavers prompt diplomatic row
25 Mar 04  |  Americas
Britons trapped in Mexican cave
23 Mar 04  |  Americas


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