September 21, 2011

Thoughts about a tragedy

A 37 years old man died today in a famous underwater cave in Hungary. The Molnar Janos cave is uniqe in many ways: it's in the heart of Hungary's lively capital Budapest. The total length of the system is more than 6 kilometers and they still don't know where is the end of it. There is warm water in the cave which is the source of the healing water of a famous thermal bath.

In Hungary we don't have too much interesting dive spots. This cave with its crystal water was an attraction and if I want to be honest I confess in the past many people participated in guided dives there although they didn't have any cave diver certification. But it's a real cave with real dangers. I've been there once so I know what I'm talking about. It wasn't my favorite diving experience, I learned a life saving lesson: do dives only what you qualified to. I wasn't but I survived. But I know many other divers didn't have the same dangerous experience so they went to guided trips often. They changed the rules only a few years ago and since then cave divers allowed to enter the Molnar Janos cave. But the dive leader decides who is qualified and fit for a dive. The only one thing which didn't change the guest paid a lot for a dive there. (I need to mention the professionals who led dives there: they are extremely skilled and experienced cave divers so they were able to organize dives in caves safely.)

We heard stories about incidents and accidents but there weren't any names or official, detailed reports. Now, after the tragic death of a young man everybody starts to discuss safety concerns again. It seems the diver had problems after surfacing and he collapsed there but technically it's a diving accident. (Update: after the autopsy it seems the cause was gas embolism, so it was a real diving accident.) And in the same brief article they mention another accident which happened a few months ago. They needed a death to start an investigation about the diving practice in the cave. Maybe it wasn't perfect but only this tragedy made the authority to do something: they forbid all the dives in the cave. This is the simplest way to 'solve' a problem: no dive, no cry. Hopefully someday we will know from an official report what and how happened...

It's an accident we should learn from. But only tomorrow: today I feel sorry for a young man, a diver. I'm really sad and express condolences to his family and friends...

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