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Man trapped in storm drain ‘the width of a pizza' rescued after two days

Officials freed the man from the 16-inch (41cm) 'pizza-sized' diameter pipe (file pic)
Associated Press Reporters

A man who was trapped 15 feet underground for two days in a storm pipe the width of a large pizza was rescued in an effort that lasted hours and involved at least 50 firefighters, police officers and rescue personnel.

Officials freed the man from the 16-inch (41cm) diameter pipe at about 9.30pm on Sunday in Antioch, north-east of San Francisco, said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesperson Steve Hill.

“When we finally got him out of the ground, he was beyond exuberant. He was beyond happy to be above ground,” Hill said.

The man, in his mid-30s, was not injured but showed signs of dehydration and was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, Hill said.

Hill said the man entered the extensive storm water system intentionally and at one point reached the area of the narrow pipe and became stuck.

“He couldn’t get through and he couldn’t go back,” he said.

The man told officials he had been trapped for about two days before passers-by heard his screams and called 911.

“Somehow, people passing by on a walking path some distance away from the stormwater system managed to hear his cries for help. That’s fairly miraculous because it was pretty windy out there,” Hill said.

Hill said the high-risk rescue operation involved four firefighters with their own air supply entering the underground space from one direction while other rescuers dug a second access from the opposite side.

They had to clear tree branches, garbage and other debris to reach the man, who was able to communicate with authorities the entire time.

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