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Rescued: Five Grand Canyon tourists spend night 60 metres underground

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Five visitors to the Grand Canyon have been rescued after spending more than 24 hours trapped 60 metres underground.

The group were stranded on Sunday evening, when an elevator malfunctioned, and were winched out of the cave 26 hours later.

Luckily, they weren’t confined to a claustrophobic lift car – the Grand Canyon Caverns attraction includes a hotel and a restaurant.

Authorities had to bring in specialist engineers to fix the elevator, Coconino Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jon Paxton told CNN News.

“Yesterday five folks were exiting the caverns when the elevator stopped working,” he explained on Monday night local time.

“Believing it was an electrical problem, a generator was brought in. It’s not an electrical problem. It’s a mechanical problem.”

The staff at the Cavern worked to make the unplanned extended visit as “comfortable as possible,” Paxton said.

The only other way out of the canyon is via the 21 storey fire escape.

However, members of the tourist group have medical conditions that prevented them from taking this option.

Search and rescue teams ultimately used a hoisting apparatus to lift the visitors out of the canyon.

Why is there a motel at the bottom of the Grand Canyon?

More than 300km long and 1,800 metres deep, the Grand Canyon is one of the USA’s most iconic landmarks.

It formed around six million years ago as the Colorado River slowly cut a deep channel through layers of rock.

The caves in the region are much older, dating back roughly 65 million years. The Grand Canyon Caverns – the attraction where the tourists are trapped – is the largest of these caverns.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy feared the outbreak of a nuclear war. In anticipation of bombing, he ordered that the massive dry cave be transformed into a bomb shelter.

Now, visitors can spend the night in the former bunker, which owners bill as the “deepest, darkest, quietest hotel room in the world.”

A visit for two people will set you back $1,000 per night.

Though it might be the world’s deepest motel room, it is not the world’s deepest hotel room – that title belongs to Sweden’s Sala silvermine, where guests can sleep more than 150 metres underground.

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