Rescue operation underway for ill US researcher stuck 3,000 feet inside cave in Turkey

Rescue teams are working to extricate an American researcher after he suddenly fell ill while 3,000 feet deep inside a cave in Turkey.

Mark Dickey, 40, was on an expedition last week with his colleagues in the Morca cave, located in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey, when he unexpectedly began vomiting due to stomach bleeding. He was unable to leave on his own, prompting the leaders of the expedition to seek international help, the European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) said in a statement released Thursday.

Recovery teams, doctors and paramedics came from across Europe to assist and extract Dickey, amassing to 190 people from 8 countries who have come to help the cave expert, according to The Associated Press.

“Rescue missions from such deepness are very rare, extremely difficult and need many very experienced cave rescuers,” the ECRA said in the statement.

After receiving help from doctors and paramedics, Cave Rescue Bulgaria said on Thursday that Dickey’s health was in better shape and he was able to walk on his own.

European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) members work next to the entrance of Morca cave near Anamur, southern Turkey, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (Mithat Unal/Dia Images via AP)

Now, the task to remove him presents another challenge depending on the trajectory of his condition. If his gastrointestinal illness worsens, the rescue teams may need to bring the researcher up on a stretcher — a “labor intensive” process that could take 10 days, Recep Salci, the head of AFAD’s search and rescue department, told the AP.

In a video, obtained by Reuters from inside the cave on Wednesday, Dickey is seen upright and thanking the response teams and the efforts by the Turkish government he said “saved my life.”

“The caving world is a really tight-knit group, and it is amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface,” he said.

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