Posted Sep 8, 2023 at 6:35 am ET

An American cave explorer mapping a Turkish cave has fallen ill and is recovering thousands of feet underground awaiting rescue. (AP graphic)

ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — An American researcher who contracted the disease nearly 1,000 meters (more than 3,000 feet) below the entrance to a cave in Turkey has recovered enough to be extracted in an operation that could last three or four days, a process that could last for three or four days. four days. A Turkish official was quoted as saying on Friday.

Mark Dickey, an experienced 40-year-old caveman, became suddenly ill with stomach bleeding while on an expedition with a group of others in Murca Cave in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey. Rescuers from all over Europe rushed to the cave to perform an operation to save him, including a Hungarian doctor who arrived and treated him.

“The doctors we sent were very successful in treating him,” Cenk Yildiz, a regional official with the Turkish Disaster Relief Agency, told the IHA news agency. “We are now in a position to evacuate him.”

“This is a difficult process. It will take 16 hours for a (healthy) person to be discharged. This process will last at least three or four days,” Yildiz continued. “Our priority is health. Our goal is to finish this process without putting anyone in danger.

Late Thursday, members of Italy’s national alpine and cave rescue team, including at least one doctor and a nurse, joined rescue teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey. According to Turkish media reports, a Turkish helicopter was on standby near the entrance to the cave.

Dicky was seen standing and moving in a video message from inside the cave that Turkish authorities made available on Thursday. He said that while he was awake and talking, he had not been “healed from the inside” and would need a lot of help to get out of the cave.

In his letter, he also thanked the troglodyte community and the Turkish government for their efforts.

“The cave world is a really tight-knit bunch, and it’s amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface,” Dickey said. “…I know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies I needed, in my opinion, saved my life. I was too close to the edge.”

The New Jersey-based cave rescue group, to which Dickie belongs, said he had been bleeding and losing fluids from his stomach, but had now stopped vomiting and eating for the first time in days. It was not clear what caused the medical problem.

Doctors are expected to decide whether he will need to leave the cave on a stretcher or if he can leave on his own. The New Jersey Initial Response Team said the rescue operation would require multiple teams and constant medical care inside the cave, which is also very cold.

The cave is being prepared for Dickie’s safe extraction, including widening passages and addressing the risk of falling rocks, according to the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service and other officials.

Dickie has been described by the society as a “highly trained cave and cave rescuer” and is well known as a cave researcher, or speleologist, through his participation in numerous international expeditions. He is the secretary of the medical committee of the association.

The researcher was on an expedition mapping the 1,276-meter-deep (4,186-foot) Murca Cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association when he encountered a problem at a depth of about 1,000 meters, according to Yusuf Ogrincik of the Trove Association of Turkey. He first fell ill on September 2, but it took until the morning of September 3 to notify the others above ground.

More than 170 people are involved in the rescue operation, including experienced doctors, medics and cave researchers.


Susan Fraser in Ankara, Türkiye; Robert Badendyk in Istanbul; Mike Catallini in Trenton, New Jersey; Darko Bandić in Zagreb, Croatia; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; Aretz Barra in Madrid; Monica Cieslowska in Warsaw, Poland; Patricia Thomas in Rome; Rhonda Schaffner in New York contributed to this report.

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