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RESCUE

American basejumper saved in amazing 13-hour rescue

An American basejumper has been rescued from a cliff in Switzerland after hanging by his parachute for 13 hours.

American basejumper saved in amazing 13-hour rescue
Basejumping is popular in Lauterbrunnen. File photo: AFP
The 21-year-old from Florida was base jumping on Sunday near the Shilthorn cable car in Lauterbrunnen — a popular area for the sport due to its sheer cliffs — when a jump went wrong, reported the Berner Zeitung on Tuesday. 
 
After jumping, he was pushed in the wrong direction by his parachute and slammed into the cliff, ending up hanging by his parachute 500 metres above the ground, said the paper.
 
At 9pm a Swiss Alpine Club rescue team and an Air Glacier helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but the difficulty of the terrain and the basejumper’s position on the rock made for a complicated rescue. 
 
The only way to reach him was to climb down 200 metres from the top of the cliff, an operation that took two climbers seven hours.
 
Badly injured, the man was able to call police, saying he thought he had broken his legs. 
 
“We could not wait until Monday morning, we had to act immediately,” one of the rescuers told the paper.
 
So despite the dark they worked through the night and finally reached the injured man at around 4am. 
 
The rescuers then had to move the American to a more secure place from where he could be collected by helicopter when daylight arrived. 
 
In his current position, there was a risk that the air produced by the helicopter's blades could have dislodged the parachute that was keeping him from falling to the ground, rescuers told the paper. 
 
He was finally extracted from his predicament at 7am and flown to hospital. 
 
Such a complicated and long rescue was unprecedented for the team, the director of Air Glaciers Lauterbrunnen, Christian Von Allmen, told the paper.
 
“A 13-hour operation to rescue a basejumper is a first,” he said.
 
An extreme sport, basejumping involves jumping from a cliff or fixed structure using a parachute that is deployed partway through the descent.
 
Several people have died in basejumping accidents in Lauterbrunnen since the area became a popular spot for the sport.
 
NB: This article was amended on August 10th to state that the victim was pushed in the wrong direction by his parachute, not the wind.

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ANIMAL

WATCH: Swiss water police rescue drowning deer

Water police in the Swiss canton of Zug were called into action on Monday afternoon to rescue a deer in difficulties. An expat in the area caught the incident on camera.

WATCH: Swiss water police rescue drowning deer
The animal was returned to the forest. Photo: Zug police

Water and environmental police had just carried out a joint exercise on Lake Aegeri when a boy informed officers the animal was in trouble in the water, the force said in a statement.

Officers used the Bella patrol boat to track down the roe deer, locating it a long way from the safety of shore.

Kovaldas Balciauskas, an expat based in Oberägeri told The Local via email be had been playing tennis when the deer came charging through the village and slammed into the fence surrounding the tennis courts.

“We continued to play tennis and the deer remained in the creek for about 20–30 minutes before it ran out of the mouth of the creek and proceeded to swim away from shore,” he wrote.

When he and his friend Will Pendered saw the animal was struggling, they decided to jump in a row boat to see if they could help the animal. 

“If it began to struggle we would have intervened but it was unnecessary,” Balciauskas wrote, noting police vessels were already intervening. His video footage above shows the rescue in progress.

 Photo: Zug Police

The animal was returned to shore shortly afterwards.

“Wildlife officers returned the deer to the forest where it could recover from the shock,” police said in their statement.

“This was an unusual operation for water police and environmental protection officers which, to the delight of everyone involved, ended happily,” they said.