KUCHING: The Sarawak Government has announced the significant discovery of a new cave near Mulu, which is at least six million years old and possibly within the top 15 largest in the world.
The discovery was made by world famous British explorer Andy Eavis on Oct 15. It took Eavis a total of 24 expeditions to Mulu since his first attempt all the way back in 1977 to find this new cave, according to the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).
"Our steps when we explored it, our footprints, could have been been the very first ones ever inside," said Ramli Ahmad, who was an expedition member.
Ramli said Eavis named it Conviction Cave as they found it with great conviction.
Ramli said the cave was located in very rugged terrain and that it’s opening in the ground could only fit one person at a time.
"It's a vertical shaft that goes down for 100m. Then you crawl through a passage which slowly gets bigger before reaching the chamber," he said.
SFC chief executive Wong Ting Chung called it a "very significant scientific" discovery and said that early reports and photographs of the surface formation indicate the cave is "totally untouched".
"Down the vertical shaft, they could see clearly the different layers of limestone. Possibly totally untouched for millions (of years). Every layer is a record of the history of the world," Wong said.
The state Government's "mission" now was to study the cave with international experts.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem first spoke about the discovery at SFC's 12th anniversary celebration on Friday night.
He pledged more expeditions would be carried out in and around Mulu, which is already a Unesco world heritage site.
"I suspect more caves will be discovered. Within the Mulu system, there could be a nest of caves. Whenever they discover new (sources of) water, they see how it flows," he said.
Gunung Mulu National Park is famous for its limestone formations. Features include enormous caves, vast cave networks, rock pinnacles, cliffs and gorges. Mount Mulu is a sandstone mountain rising to 2,376m.
Within it is the Sarawak Chamber, the world's largest that it can fit 40 Boeing 747s wingtip to wingtip.
The new Conviction discovery is more than two hours of trekking from the entrance of the national park.
Eavis, 68, is said to have discovered more underground territory on earth than anyone else alive. His other major explorations have been at Guilin, China.