A MAN thought to be from Huddersfield was among rescuers who freed six British potholers trapped in Mexican caves.
Cave diving expert Jason Mallinson flew to Cuetzalan with colleague Richard Stanton to help rescue the six Britons trapped in the Cueva Alpazat cave network in the centre of Mexico.
After 45 minutes searching for the men last night, Jason and Richard gave them scuba gear and guided them out of the flooded chamber one by one. The operation took six hours.
Jason and Richard worked with Mexican underwater specialists and cavers.
The two are members of the Cave Diving Group, but were not representing the CDG in Mexico.
The CDG provides a link between cave rescue organisations and their umbrella body, the British Cave Rescue Council, which arranges help from expert divers for such missions.
Jason said: "It was tricky because the water was murky and it was getting stirred up by the swimmers."
Four of the rescued men are serving military officers, one is a recently retired Serviceman and the sixth is a civilian from the Royal Geographical Society.
The men were named by British officials in Mexico as Jonathan Sims - thought to be the retired Serviceman - Charles Milton, Simon Cornhill, Chris Mitchell, Tony Hamnett and John Roe.
Officials did not say which were military members or where the men were from.
The men had been part of a 13-man expedition with the Combined Services Caving Association, which encompasses the Army, Navy and Air Force.
They were trapped eight days ago by flash floods.
The men camped on a dry 15ft-ledge and had a camping stove, food, light and dry clothing.
They said they were not in danger and were waiting for the water to subside.
They said they did not need rescuing and could have survived for another week.
They refused an earlier offer of rescue from Mexican cavers.
After they escaped the men were healthy and in high spirits.
Jonathan Sims said: "It was not scary, but it was inconvenient."
The men said a diplomatic row over their troubles which had broken out between Britain and Mexico was "embarrassing".
The row started because the Mexican government was upset to discover the men - who were on tourist visas - were military personnel.
Mexican officials have questioned them about their activities.
The men's refusal to be rescued by Mexican cavers fuelled rumours that they were hiding the true nature of what they were doing.
However, the men say they were on an informal adventure trip and did not need special permission.
A British Defence Ministry spokesman said: "They weren't armed or in uniform. The whole point of the expedition was to give soldiers a chance outside their normal roles to enjoy some activity that may give them a chance to gain skills.
"We have been going to Mexico for about 20 years for this kind of thing. It is good for morale."