Dog saved from depths of South African 'Big Hole'

Dog saved from depths of South African 'Big Hole'
This photo taken on June 5, 2010 shows the diamond mine known as the Big Hole, that went out of use in 1914 after more than 100 years of production, in Kimberley.

JOHANNESBURG - Rescuers on Saturday saved a dog trapped nearly a week down a gigantic artificial crater known as "Big Hole" in central South Africa.

The canine explorer survived a dizzying plunge down the 200-metre (650-foot) hole in Kimberley in Northern Cape province, managing to swim across the lake at the bottom and take refuge on one of its sides.

Kimberley's main tourist attraction, "Big Hole" is a former diamond mine owned by the De Beers group and is claimed to be the world's largest hand-dug excavation.

Local media reported step-by-step on the five-hour operation to rescue the labrador-style dog.

The animal was "doing well", rescue service spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson told AFP after it was brought to safety, with a local pet association on scene to make sure it was not injured.

"It was moving around, it was running around and all that, so it doesn't seem that it was injured, it was probably hungry and dehydrated," she said.

A team of seven went down into the vast crater, providing support to one another as the last man managed to get the dog, she said.

"We cannot confirm when the dog fell, it was apparently about seven days ago. That's what people say. It was spotted by a tourist who was at the Big Hole on Friday."

There has been no sign yet from the dog's owners. "It has been two days of talking about the dog and nobody came forward at all," she said.

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