Turkish Cave Rescue: American researcher rescued from deep cave after falling ill more than a week ago
He was on an expedition to map the cave, which is the country’s third deepest
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An American researcher has been rescued from a Turkish cave after after he became seriously ill 1,000 metres below its entrance more than a week ago. Teams from across Europe had rushed to Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains to aid Mark Dickey, a 40-year-old experienced caver who became seriously ill on September 2 with stomach bleeding, the Speleological Federation of Turkey said.
He was on an expedition to map the cave, which is the country’s third deepest. Mr Dickey was too frail to climb out himself, so rescuers carried him with the help of a stretcher, making frequent stops at temporary camps set up along the way.
“Mark Dickey is out of the Morca cave. He is fine and is being tended to by emergency medical worker in the encampment above,” said a statement by the speleological federation on Monday.
“Thus, the cave rescue part of the operation has ended successfully. We congratulate all those who have contributed.”
Lying on a stretcher surrounded by reporters following his rescue , Dickey described the ordeal as a “crazy, crazy adventure”.
“It is amazing to be above ground again,” he said, thanking the Turkish government for saving his life with its rapid response.
He also thanked the international caving community, Turkish cavers and Hungarian Cave Rescue, among others.
A statement from Mr Dickey’s parents. Debbie and Andy Dickey, said the fact that their son “has been moved out of Morca Cave in stable condition is indescribably relieving and fills us with incredible joy”.
The American was first treated inside the cave by a Hungarian doctor who went down the cave on September 3. Doctors and rescuers then took turns caring for him. The cause of Mr Dickey’s illness was not clear.
On Tuesday, Mr Dickey said that in the cave he had started to throw up large quantities of blood.
He told reporters: “My consciousness started to get harder to hold on to, and I reached the point where I thought ‘I’m not going to live’.”
The biggest challenges for the rescuers were the steep vertical sections and navigating through mud and water at low temperatures in the horizontal sections. There was also the psychological toll of staying inside a dark, damp cave for extended periods of time.
Around 190 experts from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey took part in the rescue, including doctors, paramedics and experienced cavers. Teams comprised of a doctor and three to four other rescuers took turns staying by his side at all times.
The rescue began on Saturday after doctors, who administered IV fluids and blood, determined that Mr Dickey could make the arduous ascent.
Before the evacuation could begin, rescuers first had to widen some of the cave’s narrow passages, install ropes to pull him up vertical shafts on a stretcher and set up temporary camps along the way.
Mr Dickey, who is from Croton-on-Hudson, New York, is a well-known cave researcher and a cave rescuer himself who had participated in many international expeditions.
He and several other people on the expedition were mapping the 1,276-metre deep Morca cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association.
Turkish authorities made a video message available that showed Mr Dickey standing and moving around on Thursday. While alert and talking, he said he was not “healed on the inside” and needed a lot of help to get out of the cave.
He thanked the caving community and the Turkish government for their efforts to rescue him.