BEIRUT, Lebanon – A young Egyptian tourist drowned in a river located inside a popular Mount Lebanon cave Saturday.
Television footage showed medics carrying the body Mina Ashraf on a stretcher from inside the lower cave of the Jeita Grotto, located 11 miles north of Beirut, and into an ambulance.
He fell into the river after scuffling with other members of his tour group, Nabil Haddad, a manager of the company that overseas the caves Mapas, told LBCI.
The incident left the tourist group in shock as several were heard screaming while rescue teams struggled to retrieve the body due to the strong water current.
It occurred on a dock where the group waited to board a small boat to take them on a tour of the cave through the water.
Samir Yazbek, head of the civil defense rescue team, told MTV that the cold water and strong current made it difficult for rescuers to retrieve the body of the 22-year-old tourist.
“Fifteen civil defense members struggled for an hour and a half to pull the body out of the water due to the intense currents,” Yazbek said.
Mapas later in the day said the incident was the first of its kind in 21 years and announced that the caves would be closed Sunday in light of the accident.
Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon said in a statement that the ministry launched an investigation into the incident.