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British diver rushed to hospital after 9-hour submersion in Caucasus lake

January 21, 2012, 2:44 UTC+3
During one of Robson’s first dives on January 13 a member of the support team, diver from Moscow Andrei Rodionov died due to an accidental equipment failure
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Photo ITAR-TASS

Photo ITAR-TASS

NALCHIK, January 21 (Itar-Tass) —— British diver Martin Robson, who developed health problems after Russia’s record-deep submersion to a depth of 209 meters in Blue Lake, in Kabardino-Balkaria, has been airlifted to the resort city of Sochi by an Emergency Ministry plane, the director of the project for Blue Lake’s exploration, Bogdana Vashchenko, told Itar-Tass.

“An Il-76 plane with physiologists and a mobile pressure chamber on board arrived at the Mineralnyie Vody airport on Friday, from where Robson was brought to a hospital in Sochi, where there is the necessary equipment and unique methodology,” Vashchenko said, adding that Professor Gennady Sokolov, of the Moscow Institute of Medical-Biological Problems was providing medical assistance to the British diver.

Other participants in the international research project for exploring Blue Lake in Kabardino-Balkaria (258 meters deep) say that Robson was making very complicated and risky dive.

“It lasted for about nine hours. Robson surfaced in accordance with the schedule, but he had symptoms of the decompression disease and felt unwell,” other divers said. The rescuers on duty took him to a pressure chamber at the republican hospital in Nalchik, where he underwent several treatment sessions.

During one of Robson’s first dives on January 13 a member of the support team, diver from Moscow Andrei Rodionov died due to an accidental equipment failure. Robson went to depths of 160-200 meters to take samples of water and soil. He was also looking for a cave or caves on the steep wall of the depression that forms the lake. Specialists from the Perm Institute of Natural Studies under Nikolai Maksimovich and karstologist Giovanni Badino, of the University of Verona, have identified several areas where at depths of 100 meters to 200 meters a system of caves is likely to be found.

Blue lake is a unique natural site. It never freezes. There are no storms and the transparency of the water is amazing – 40 meters in sunny weather. The lake owes its color – from light-blue to turquoise (depending on the weather) - to the high content of hydrogen sulfide. A diving center has operated on the lake since 2002.

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