updated 8/18/2005 2:39:23 PM ET 2005-08-18T18:39:23

Searchers recovered the bodies of two women and two men who had tried to swim underwater through a narrow submerged passageway in a cave in an effort to reach another chamber, officials said Thursday.

Other people in the area have safely reached the chamber, an amateur cave explorer said.

Police were working to identify the people, ages 18 to 28, and notify relatives, said Karen Mayne, a spokeswoman for the Provo Police Department.

The body of at least one of the victims — a young woman — was found underwater in the narrow passage, Mayne said.

Details on the locations of the other three were not immediately made available.

A fifth member of the group had called authorities about an hour after his friends entered the water-filled passage, authorities said.

During the rescue attempt, emergency crews pumped oxygen into the cave and pumped water out. A rescue team from the city of Orem that specializes in working in confined spaces such as caves was brought to help, Mayne said.

However, crews were unfamiliar with the cave, and its layout, she said.

Word of the location of the cave seems to have been spreading recently by word of mouth, said Provo resident Brian Lamprey, 29, who said he went into the cavern about three weeks ago.

“You hear about it, and it’s sort of fascinating — almost like a movie type thing, an underwater expedition kind of fascinating,” he said outside the cave.

He said the entrance to the passageway is a hole visible at the bottom of a pool of clear water, about five feet deep, that sits some 30 yards inside the cave.

Lamprey said he dropped into the hole and worked his way through the narrow underwater passage for about 15 feet before popping up in the next chamber. He said someone had placed a guide rope in the passage.

There is two or three feet of breathable air above the water in that next chamber, which could hold about eight people, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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