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5 people stranded 21 floors in Grand Canyon Caverns because elevator broke down

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Five people have been stranded about 21 stories underground in Grand Canyon Caverns since the attraction’s elevator malfunctioned Sunday night, authorities said Monday night.

The visitors were not locked in an elevator car; instead, they have the run of the caves and an adjacent hotel suite while waiting for a suitable ride to the surface in Peach Springs, Arizona, said Coconino Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jon Paxton.

The fault was discovered around sunset Sunday, and the group was unable to use a stair system similar to an old, external fire escape, Paxton said.

The caves are equipped with a six-person hotel suite and food service, and the group was set up by the hoteliers for the night, he said. The suite costs $1,000 per night for two.

On Monday, attempts to repair the elevator by connecting it to an external generator were unsuccessful, Paxton said. The problem, which is handled by elevator repair personnel, could be mechanical, he said.

It was not clear how long it would take to repair the elevator, the spokesman said. The solution could be a lift of the type used by fire rescue teams.

The sheriff’s office has one, and it was sent to the scene on Monday.

Workers who helped the guests underground used the stairs, Paxton said.

Said to be the largest dry caves in the US, the Natural Limestone Caves occupy a desert area southwest of Grand Canyon National Park, about 180 miles from the California border.

The caves are said to have been formed by natural forces 65 million years ago. The facilities at the site, which is part of historic Route 66, are privately operated.


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