Mark Dickey's rescue from the Morca Sinkhole began on Saturday afternoon, according to the Turkish Caving Federation
Rescue efforts to transport the American man who became trapped in a Turkish cave after falling ill have begun.
A rescue team reached Mark Dickey and began to move him out of Morca Sinkhole — the third-deepest cave in Turkey with a depth of 4,186 feet — on a stretcher Saturday afternoon, the Turkish Caving Federation (TUMAF) shared on X, which is formerly known as Twitter.
“Mark's transport in a stretcher has started at 15:28 local time,” the federation, which is collaborating with Turkey’s government on the rescue, wrote alongside a diagram of the cave.
Mark's transport in a stretcher has started at 15:28 local time (GMT+3) pic.twitter.com/H1eNrvohQ7
— Türkiye Mağaracılık Federasyonu (@tumaf1) September 9, 2023
TUMAF later posted several more updates about Dickey’s ongoing move to the surface, which began at a base camp located at a depth of around 3,412 feet.
Hours later, Dickey, 40, was located at a depth of about 2,560 feet, which TUMAF wrote on X was "one more ascent away” from the team’s next stop at a cave campsite.
According to the caving federation’s most recent update, shared Sunday morning, Dickey “set off on a stretcher for the next camp," which is located at a depth of about 1640 feet, at around 10 a.m. local time.
— Türkiye Mağaracılık Federasyonu (@tumaf1) September 10, 2023
The New Jersey man, an experienced caver, traveled to the cave in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains in order to map a new passage.
His plans were disrupted when he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding last weekend while at a depth of about 3,675 feet, prompting the rescue. Soon after becoming sick, he was transported to a base camp at 3,412 feet, per CNN.
Dickey entered the cave with his fiancée and fellow caver, Jessica, who will exit the cave ahead of his rescue, the New Jersey Initial Response Team said, according to NBC News.
New of Dickey's situation reached the European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) last Saturday, when it received a call saying that an individual had fallen ill in the cave and had "severe gastric pain,” according to a news release.
According to the ECRA, some of Dickey’s fellow cavers asked for medical advice, hoping to treat him so that he would be able to climb out of the cave without help, but "rising destabilization of the circulation of the patient" meant that assistance was required.
Doctors at one of the cave’s base camps said that it was “not possible for him to climb out on his own,” and it would take 15 hours in ideal conditions to get him back to the cave’s entrance because of its “narrow winding passages and several rappels,” according to posts TUMAF shared on X last week.
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Dr. Tulga Şener, a medical coordinator at the rescue commission of the caving federation, previously told NBC News that the caver had been vomiting and bleeding, but had since stopped.
Şener also shared that a doctor and paramedic were with him in the cave, should his condition worsen.
In a video of Dickey captured last week that was shared by Turkey’s communications directorate and obtained by the Associated Press and BBC, the caver shared his gratitude for everyone assisting with his rescue efforts.
“I don't quite know what’s happened, but I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I needed, in my opinion, saved my life,” Dickey said in the video, adding that he “was very close to the edge.”
The caver, clad in a puffer jacket and headlamp, continued: “As you can see I’m up, I’m alert and talking, but I’m not healed on the inside yet.”
“So, I’m gonna need a lot of help to get out of here,” he concluded.
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