Blue ice cavern in Swiss Alpine glacier delights visitors

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LES DIABLERETS, Switzerland, Dec 22 (Reuters) - An ice cave which forms each year on a high-altitude glacier in the Swiss Alps delighted visitors who came on Wednesday to marvel at its huge blue vault.

The 20-metre (yard)-long cave, which varies in size and shape every year, has a rounded ceiling made of thick ice about 5 metres high.

Hikers can reach the site in 15 minutes from the chairlift at Glacier 3000 above the resort of Les Diablerets.

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The natural cave, also known as "the Mill" or "the Devil's Hole", forms through a siphon effect.

Each spring and summer, the cavity fills with water from snowmelt, forming a lake. In autumn, the plug disappears and the water drains, leaving the cave.

"It's amazing to feel the cold, fresh air inside and to see what nature has made possible with the glacier," said visitor Jens Behrend from the nearby town of Gstaad.

"It's amazing to see all the ice, to see the glacier open, and to feel how small you are in this cave."

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Reporting by Denis Balibouse, Writing by Michael Shields. Editing by Jane Merriman

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