A cave explorer was rescued Sunday from a mountain grotto in northwestern Italy, four days after he broke his ankle and became trapped underground, news reports said.

Igor Lelevic, 43, of Croatia, was hoisted out of the cave on a stretcher to the cheers of the scores of workers who worked to free him, RAI state television reported. Wrapped in heat-conducting blankets, he was immediately flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

Lelevic broke his ankle, dislocated his shoulder and gashed his leg Wednesday while exploring the Piaggia Bella cave in the Maritime Alps near Italy's border with France, the ANSA news agency said.

While he remained trapped because of his injuries, doctors were able to reach him to provide first aid before rescue crews cleared a path out large enough for the stretcher, ANSA said.