GOUMOIS, France -- Rescue workers used small targeted explosives Saturday to speed up the water drainage from a flooded cave in which eight Swiss tourists have been trapped for four days.
"We hope to get them out before sunset," Alain Gehain, the prefect of the Doubs region, where the cave is located, told a news conference.
The eight cavers, all amateur explorers, were located Friday in one of two cavities known to have air pockets, and about 265 feet from the entrance to the cave.
The rescuers had earlier dug a hole into the other air pocket, just 20 feet away. On Saturday, they used explosives to enlarge that small cavity to speed the release of water from the cave, Gehain said.
The rescue attempt was delayed Saturday by continued high water levels in the cave, which did not drop as quickly overnight as had been hoped.
Two divers, however, entered the cave Saturday morning and delivered warm clothes, food and water to the group. They joined two other divers who were staying with the group after arriving Friday with food, warm drinks and blankets.
"They are dry and in good spirits," Gehain said.
The group -- three women and five men in their 20s -- have been trapped in the cave on the French-Swiss border since Wednesday. When rescuers found them Friday the group was huddled in a dry crevice after heavy rains caused torrents of water that trapped them in the long, winding cave they had been exploring.
Once the rescue operation begins, the group will be outfitted with scuba diving equipment to advance through the flooded tunnels of the cave and then have to walk a short distance along the cave's external wall to reach safety, rescue workers said.
Evacuating them was expected to take several hours. Rescuers are waiting until the water levels inside the cave drop enough so the cavers' heads will be above water during the evacuation, Gehain said.
Saturday brought the first day of sunshine since the rescue operation began, but rescuers feared the onset of more rain.
The vacationers had gone into the cave some 30 miles from the French-Swiss border Wednesday despite a warning of bad weather from a local restaurant owner, French news reports said.
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