US Caver Rescued from One of Turkey's Deepest Caves
Rescue teams have successfully brought American caver Mark Dickey to safety after he was trapped underground for over a week in Turkey's third-deepest cave due to a severe illness.
The BBC reports that over 150 people participated in the rescue operation for the 40-year-old speleologist Mark Dickey, who fell ill with stomach bleeding during an expedition with several other researchers in the Morka cave, located in the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey.
The lowest point in the Morka cave reaches a depth of nearly 1.3 kilometers underground.
Dickey himself confessed to fearing he might not survive the ordeal as his condition worsened.
"At first, I thought, 'This isn't so bad, I'm not going to die. Okay, I'm bleeding, but it's bacteria, it's an infection, whatever.' Then I keep throwing up blood. It becomes more difficult for me to stay conscious, and I get to the point where I say, 'I'm not going to live,'" he added.
Following the rescue, the researcher will receive further medical treatment.
Dickey was leading a group that was mapping a new passage in the cave when he began suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. His condition improved after receiving a blood transfusion. Subsequently, he was tethered to a stretcher and slowly carried through narrow rocky tunnels.
In the tightest spots, explosives had to be used. Rescuers claim it was one of the largest and most challenging underground rescue operations ever conducted.
Dickey's parents, Debbie and Andy, stated that the "international speleological community" allowed Mark to leave the Morka cave and receive further treatment in the hospital.
They expressed their immense relief and joy at their son's rescue, saying, "Mark is strong, and we believe in his strength, but we were acutely aware that he desperately needed extraordinary and immediate support."
They further said, "Our prayers have been answered, and it is impossible to convey the depth of our gratitude to the international speleological community."
In a video message from inside the cave, Mark Dickey also expressed his gratitude to the people who tried to save him.
"I know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the necessary medications, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to dying," he said.
Rescue workers said that helping Mark Dickey was a "tremendously honorable" experience.
"There's no one who can rescue a caver but another caver. We've seen it very little. To work on a rescue operation for another caver is very honorable, very pleasurable," said Ibrahim Olcu, a caver from Istanbul.
Sophia Zador, a Hungarian anaesthetist, mentioned that this was her first "major rescue as a doctor."
"It's a quite challenging cave because there are very narrow tunnels, and the shafts are quite dirty, so it's not the easiest cave to go through," she added.
Several rescuers from other countries, including Croatia and Hungary, flew to Turkey to assist in the operation. Mark Dickey's fiancée, Jessica Van Ord, remained with him in the cave while he was unwell but later exited.
Mark Dickey, originally from New Jersey, has over 20 years of experience as a speleologist. He served as an instructor for the National Cave Rescue Commission in the United States for a decade, teaching various cave rescue courses. The organization's website also lists him as a coordinator for their international exchange program.