Climber's leg amputated in rescue bid

Climber's leg amputated in rescue bid
Rescuers at the scene.

It took 100 people and more than two days to rescue a trapped climber in South Africa.

In a scene reminiscent of the film 127 Hours, Mr Tsenolo Shadrack Rasello was rescued only after his right leg was amputated below the knee.

The amputation was needed after rescuers failed to free him by pulling on the leg, hacking at rocks and pouring lubricant in a bid to get the limb to slip out.

The incident happened on Sept 19 in the Magaliesberg mountain range, a tourist destination near Johannesburg, South African Press Association reported.

But unlike what happened in 127 Hours, Mr Rasello was able to use his mobile phone to call for help, and seven helicopters and more than 100 emergency service workers were activated for the rescue.

In 127 Hours, climber Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) cut off his own arm after getting trapped between boulders in Utah.

The 26-year-old Rasello was searching for "holy water" in streams on the mountain range when he was startled by a snake and slid down in between two rocks, Mail Online reported.

"There is no amount of explaining that can really explain the predicament this fellow was in," said Mr Rob Thomas of the Mountain Club of South Africa, who led the rescue team.

"It was way worse than what I envisioned," he told the Daily Telegraph.

The rescue team could not reach Mr Rasello until the following day, when they abseiled down the side of the mountain to find the man parched and "terrified".

"Listen, if you have to take the leg off, take the leg off. But get me out of here," Mr Rasello told rescuers.

Rescuers rotated shifts, set up a command post on the mountain, slept on the ground in their clothes, and worked upside down to try and free the man.

A trauma surgeon amputated Mr Rasello's leg on Sept 21 with the help of an anaesthetist and a paramedic. Mr Rasello is now recuperating in a Johannesburg hospital.

This article was first published on Sep 28, 2014.
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