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Turkish cave rescue: US scientist Mark Dickey closer to the surface

Key Points
  • The American researcher suffered a stomach bleed in a cave in south Türkiye.
  • Rescue teams from across Europe have been attempting to get him out.
  • The extraction process could take up to 10 days.

Rescue teams in Türkiye have successfully carried an American researcher up from the depth of a cave at 1040 metres to the 700m mark, where he will rest at a base camp before they continue the taxing journey to the surface.An experienced caver, Mark Dickey, 40, started vomiting on 2 September because of stomach bleeding while on an expedition with a handful of others in the Morca cave in southern Türkiye’s Taurus Mountains, one of the deepest in the world, according to experts.

A rescue operation began on Saturday afternoon with doctors, paramedics and experienced cavers from across Europe rushing to help.

Turkish cave rescue operation

They set up small medical base camps at various levels along the shaft, providing Dickey an opportunity to rest during the slow and arduous extrication.The Speleological Federation of Türkiye wrote on its official account on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday: “Mark was delivered to the campsite at minus 700 metres as of 03:24 local time (GMT+3),”

“At this stage, he will set out again after resting and having the necessary treatments.”

In this screen grab from video, American caver Mark Dickey, 40, talks to camera next to a colleague inside the Morca cave near Anamur, southern Türkiye. Source: AAP / Turkish Government Directorate of Communications

Turkish authorities said 190 personnel from eight countries were taking part in the operation, 153 of them search and rescue experts.The most challenging part of the rescue operation is widening the narrow cave passages to allow stretcher lines to pass through at low depths, Yusuf Ogrenecek of the speleological federation previously said.

The extraction is expected to take up to 10 days, depending on Dickey’s condition.

Mark Dickey’s video message from the cave

In a video message from inside the cave and made available on Thursday by Türkiye’s communications directorate, Dickey thanked the caving community and the Turkish government for their efforts.”Hi. Mark Dickey from nearly a thousand metres,” Dickey said. “The caving world is a really tight-knit group and it’s amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface.

“We’re still waiting for communications actually to reach down here. So right now it’s a day or two days of travel for information to get back and forth. 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 need, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to the edge.”

What to expect from the rescue operation?

Dickey, who had been bleeding and losing fluid from his stomach, has stopped vomiting and has eaten for the first time in days, according to a New Jersey-based cave rescue group he is affiliated with. It is unclear what caused his medical issue.The New Jersey Initial Response Team said Dickey is “very sick”. The rescue will require many teams and constant medical care, the group said.Communication with Dickey takes about five to seven hours and is carried out by runners, who go from Dickey to the camp below the surface where a telephone line to speak with the surface has been set up.

The New Jersey group says the cave is cold – about 4-6C.

Dinko Novosel, a Croatian cave rescuer who is head of the European Association of Cave Rescuers, said it will be a challenge to successfully rescue Dickey.The operation to bring him up from the depths involves rescue teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Türkiye.Dickey experienced gastrointestinal bleeding during his descent into the cave and he is unable to hoist himself out on his own, the European Cave Rescue Association said on its website.

The group described Dickey as “a highly trained caver and a cave rescuer himself” who is well known as a cave researcher, or speleologist, from his participation in many international expeditions. He is secretary of the association’s medical committee.

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