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Institute of Archaeology says cavers were not trapped in Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave during flooding event

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2023. 3:26 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In clarification to certain media reports, the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and Institute of Archaeology state that by the afternoon of Monday, January 9, all 150 visitors and tour guides at the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave in the Cayo District had been accounted for, and none were trapped in the rising waters reported earlier in the day.

According to the IA’s timeline, river conditions were normal as of six a.m., and the ATM Cave was opened as per normal by 8:30 a.m., with tours proceeding.

The first signs of anything unusual came around 11 a.m. when park staff monitoring the river alerted the manager to a small increase in the river level. The park manager then alerted the main office in Belmopan and sent park staff into the cave to alert tour guides. All visitors and tour guides subsequently proceeded to exit the cave, whether having completed their tours or not. No one was injured and no further incidents were reported while the cave was exited, which was completed by 2 p.m.

NICH and IA repeat their assurances that “the safety and well-being of our visitors, tour guides, and staff, remain of the utmost priority. We remain committed to safeguarding Belize’s archaeological destinations for the benefit of the Belizean tourism product and our nation’s cultural patrimony.”

 

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