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Cave Rescue Exercise Clarification: No Earthquake, No Casualties

Oudtshoorn, 14 September 2023 Oudtshoorn Municipality did a “dummy run” at the Cango Caves in order to see if the evacuation plan for a cave rescue works properly.  Oudtshoorn Municipality wants to inform the public that recent reports of an earthquake at Cango Caves are completely unfounded. There was no earthquake at the caves, and there were no individuals trapped underground. The message that circulated regarding this supposed earthquake was, in fact, part of an emergency exercise yesterday, 13 September 2023.

This exercise was initiated to simulate a disaster scenario, specifically a cave rescue operation, and to evaluate the response and effectiveness of rescue teams. The key objective of a simulation of this nature is to refrain from providing advance warnings to assess the reaction and efficiency of our emergency response teams.  During this exercise five “patients” were placed at different places in the caves.

It is important to note that while the top management of the involved organizations, including Disaster Management, Ambulance Services, South African Police Services (SAPS), Hospitals, Oudtshoorn Traffic Department as well as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), were informed about the exercise, the rescue team on-site was intentionally kept unaware of the exercise to ensure the simulation appeared as realistic as possible.

Adel Supra-Vertue, Chief of Fire, Rescue and Disaster Management stated that the exercise served as a critical test of the readiness and preparedness of our rescue teams for any potential disaster that may occur at Cango Caves or similar environments. “By conducting these unannounced simulations, we can better get a feel of our ability to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies and ensure the safety of our community and visitors.”

Rest assured, there is no actual emergency at Cango Caves, and the situation is under control as part of the planned exercise.