Washington, July 27 (ANI): A new survey has lead to the discovery of a massive cave in a remote Vietnamese jungle, which is the largest single cave passage yet found.
According to a report in National Geographic News, at 262-by-262 feet (80-by-80 meters) in most places, the Son Doong cave beats out the previous world-record holder, Deer Cave in the Malaysian section of the island of Borneo.
Deer Cave is no less than 300-by-300 feet (91-by-91 meters), but it's only about a mile (1.6 kilometers) long.
By contrast, explorers walked 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) into Son Doong, in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, before being blocked by seasonal floodwaters-and they think that the passage is even longer.
In addition, for a couple of miles, Son Doong reaches more than 460-by-460 feet (140-by-140 meters), according to Adam Spillane, a member of the British Cave Research Association expedition that explored the massive cavern.
Spillane was in the first of two groups to enter the cave. His team followed the passage as far as a 46-foot-high (14-meter-high) wall.
"The second team that went in got flooded out. We're going back next year to climb that wall and explore the cave further," he said.
A local farmer, who had found the entrance to the Son Doong cave several years ago, led the joint British-Vietnamese expedition team to the cavern in April.
The team found an underground river running through the first 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) of the limestone cavern, as well as giant stalagmites more than 230 feet (70 meters) high.
The explorers surveyed Son Doong's size using laser-based measuring devices.
Such modern technology allows caves to be measured to the nearest millimeter, according to Andy Eavis, president of the International Union of Speleology, the world caving authority, based in France.
"With these laser-measuring devices, the cave sizes are dead accurate," he said. "It tends to make the caves smaller, because years ago we were estimating, and we tended to overestimate," he added.
Eavis agreed that the new findings confirm Son Doong's record status-despite the fact that he had discovered Borneo's now demoted Deer Cave.
"This one in Vietnam is bigger," he conceded.
A biologist will accompany the team on its return visit next year to survey the cave's subterranean wildlife.
Eavis added that there are almost certainly bigger cave passages awaiting discovery around the world.
"That's the fantastic thing about caving," he said. (ANI)