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14 April 2023

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Watch: Moment extreme athlete Beatriz Flamini emerged from the cave after 500 days

A Spanish extreme athlete has emerged from a cave after spending 500 days with no human contact, in what could be a world record.

When Beatriz Flamini entered the cave in Granada, Russia had not invaded Ukraine and the world was still in the grip of the Covid pandemic.

It was part of an experiment closely monitored by scientists.

“I’m still stuck on November 21, 2021. I don’t know anything about the world,” she said after exiting the cave.

Ms Flamini, 50, entered the cave aged 48. She spent her time in the 70m (230ft) deep cave exercising, drawing and knitting woolly hats. She got through 60 books and 1,000 litres of water, according to her support team.

She was monitored by a group of psychologists, researchers, speleologists – specialists in the study of caves – but none of the experts made contact with her.

Footage on the Spanish TVE station showed her climbing out of the cave grinning, before hugging her team.

Speaking shortly afterwards, she described her experience as “excellent, unbeatable”.

“I’ve been silent for a year-and-a-half, not talking to anyone but myself,” she said, while reporters pressed her for more details.

“I lose my balance, that’s why I’m being held. If you allow me to take a shower – I haven’t touched water for a year-and-a-half – I’ll see you in a little while. Is that OK with you?”

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Flamini’s team say she has broken a world record for longest time spent in a cave

Ms Flamini later told reporters she lost track of time after about two months.

“There was a moment when I had to stop counting the days,” she said, adding that she thought she had been in the cave for “between 160-170 days”.

One of the toughest moments came when there was an invasion of flies inside the cave, leaving her covered, she said.

The extreme athlete also described “auditory hallucinations”.

“You are silent and the brain makes it up,” she said.

Experts have been using her time in isolation to study the impact of social isolation and extreme temporary disorientation on people’s perception of time.

Ms Flamini’s support team said she has broken a world record for the longest time spent in a cave, but the Guinness World Records has not confirmed whether there is a record for voluntary time living in a cave.

It has awarded the “longest time survived trapped underground” to the 33 Chilean and Bolivian miners who spent 69 days 688m underground after the collapse of a copper-gold mine in Chile in 2010.