The body of Polish cave diver Artur Kozlowski (33), who died during a solo expedition in south Galway, is not expected to be brought to the surface until early next week.
The team of three British experts who are working with the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation and the Garda on the recovery from a cave system believe it could take several more days.
Supt Pat Murray of Gort Garda station told The Irish Times the body had been moved almost halfway along the 800m distance traversed by Mr Kozlowski in the Pollonora caves.
Mr Kozlowski, who had set new Irish/British records over the past three years, had reached the end of the cave system when he was found by diving colleague Jim Warny at a depth of 52 metres last Tuesday. The alarm had been raised last Monday night when Mr Kozlowski did not surface from a dive at an agreed time.
The cause of his death is as yet unknown. Family members have travelled from Poland, but a gathering of divers planned for today to pay tribute to Mr Kozlowski, familiarly known as “Artur Konrad”, has been postponed.
The dive team, including international rescuers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, had moved Mr Kozlowski’s body to a position 450m from the cave entrance at a depth of 37 metres yesterday evening. Wales-based speleologist Martyn Farr, who trained Mr Kozlowski, said Stanton and Volanthen were “the experts” in the field. The challenging terrain is “very silted”, Supt Murray said.
The divers are working in relays of four-hour trips, taking one hour to reach the body and one to move it, and then decompressing for two hours on the ascent.