Vietnam has longest volcanic cave in Southeast Asia

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An explorer stands at the largest part of Doi Cave in Dong Nai Province. It has been named the longest cave formed by lava in Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of the Dong Nai government.

Vietnamese and German scientists have identified that Vietnam's southern province of Dong Nai has Southeast Asia's longest cave formed by volcanoes.

The distinction was given to a cave in Tan Phu District after scientists from the Vietnam Institute of Tropical Biology and the Berlin Caving Club (Speläoclub) spent two months surveying 11 lava caves in the province starting February, Vietnam News Agency reported on Monday.

The arc-shaped cave, named Doi (Bat) by locals, is 534 meters long including a damaged segment, while its intact portion is 426 meters long, besting Indonesia's Gua Lawah Cave, which is 400 meters long.

Doi Cave is four meters high and 10 meters wide at the largest part, with some parts being about the height of an average person.

Scientists also found copious amounts of mud on the floor of the rocky cave, and determined it had arrived there via floods during rainy season.

Bats, snakes, centipedes, scorpions, and amphibians were also found inhabiting the cave.

Chung The Thanh, a local, said that during monsoon season the cave becomes half-filled with water, forcing its bat population to jostle for space on the upper half, making it easy for locals to catch the creatures for sale and giving the cave its name.

Thanh said people have been living around the cave for dozens of years. They were curious enough to go in but they did not dare venture too deep, as the small opening of the cave and the way it runs deep underground makes for a poor supply of oxygen.

The scientists' findings will be published in English with maps and illustrations in the German club's magazine.

Local authorities have set up signboards banning people from catching bats in the cave to protect its biodiversity.

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