An American caver who became ill with severe gastric pain while exploring a deep, narrow cave system in Turkey last week has been brought about halfway to safety by a Turkish rescue team and is in good condition, according to the Turkish Caving Federation—but it could take several more days to complete the rescue.
Mark Dickey, 40, began suffering from severe gastric pain last week after descending more than 3,600 feet into Morca Cave in Southern Turkey, according to a statement from the European Cave Rescue Association, but he wasn’t able to be rescued until yesterday, when doctors deemed him “transportable.”
According to a post from the Turkish Caving Federation on X, formerly known as Twitter, Dickey hadn’t bled or vomited for two days.
Around 1 p.m. Eastern time, the association said Dickey had been lifted to about 500 meters—or about 1,640 feet—below surface and was stable, adding the “members of the different rescue teams are in a good physical condition,” as well.
Prior to the rescue evacuation, rescuers from Turkey, Hungary and Bulgaria descended to Dickey’s location in the cave system to treat him.
The rescue could take another couple of days as some of the cave’s deep and narrow passages require ascending up rappel ropes and the rescuers are carrying Dickey out on a stretcher.
150. That’s at least how many rescuers from Turkey and other countries have been working to save Dickey from Morca Cave, Reuters reported, which is 4,186 feet deep—about the height of about three Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.
Dickey has been an instructor with the National Cave Rescue Commission for a decade and is a “well-known figure in the international speleological community,” according to the European Cave Rescue Association, which promoted a GoFundMe to support the rescue. A Hungarian cave rescue team with a doctor arrived at Dickey just one day after the call about his pain was made last week and the rescuers set up a tent about 3,412 feet below surface where they could provide him with medical care. In addition to the gastric pain, Dickey had a decrease in blood circulation. According to the New Jersey Initial Response Team, the hike back to the cave’s entrance from where Dickey called for help takes about eight hours. Morca Cave is Turkey’s third-deepest cave and the 74th-deepest cave in the world, according to the Cave Exploration Society.