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Turkish rescuers prepare to retrieve sick American caver Mark Dickey from Morca Cave


In Turkey, rescuers are planning a complex operation to reach an American who has fallen ill and been trapped in a cave since Saturday, officials said.

Speleologist Mark Dickey, 40, is inside Morca Cave at a campsite about 3,400ft from the entrance, according to the Turkish Speleology Federation, which is helping with the rescue.

The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service said it received a call on Saturday saying a caver inside the roughly 4,100-foot-deep cave was suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding and needed help.

Dickey’s condition is stabilizing, the bleeding has stopped and he is able to walk with assistance, the federation said in a statement on Wednesday, but he needs a stretcher to be removed from the compound. cave.

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“The operation is logistically and technically one of the largest caving rescue operations in the world, involving 150 rescuers,” said the caving federation, which works with the Turkish government.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, part of the Interior Ministry, said it had teams on standby and was working in coordination with the Turkish Speleology Federation.

Lifeguards were setting up ropes on Wednesday as part of rescue efforts.

Dickey has been an instructor with the National Cave Rescue Commission and has been for 10 years, said Gretchen Baker, the group’s national coordinator. He was co-leading an expedition to find and map a new passage through the cave, she explained.

Dickey is being treated by doctors and is with his fiancée, Jessica, who is also a cave explorer, his parents, Andrew and Deborah Ann Dickey, said in a statement. They declined to be interviewed.

“Mark is strong, but he needed his fellow cavers, including, of course, the doctors, to turn a terribly scary situation into a positive,” they said.

“Our prayers are answered and we cannot express how much this means and will always mean to us,” they added.

Units of blood were delivered to Dickey this week, according to the Turkish Speleology Federation. He indicated that the operation to remove him and the stretcher promises to be complex and long. Morca Cave is the third deepest cave in Turkey, it is said.

Even though Dickey’s condition has improved, it could be several days before he can reach the entrance.

“It will take several more days to get him completely out of the cave because it’s a very difficult and technical cave and he’s so deep in there right now,” Baker said in an email late Wednesday.

It takes about 15 hours for an experienced caver to reach the surface in ideal conditions, the Turkish Speleology Federation said.

Morca Cave is located in southern Turkey, in the Taurus Mountains.

CORRECTION (September 6, 2023, 10:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the caver’s name. This is Mark Dickey, not Mark.