International rescue teams started the stretcher transport of Mark Dickey Saturday, according to the Turkish Caving Federation, an operation that could take up to 10 days and comes more than a week after the American cave specialist fell ill with gastrointestinal bleeding during an expedition into Southern Turkey’s Morca Cave.
Considering Dickey’s less-than-ideal condition, the ascent could take 10 days to complete, according to the Associated Press, which cited Recep Salci, the head of the search and rescue department at Turkey’s disaster relief agency.
Dickey’s condition improved in recent days but has limited the specialist’s strength, resulting in rescue teams needing to use a stretcher to transport him out of the cave, according to a post from the federation on X.
Doctors analyzed Dickey’s blood values before the transport began, the European Cave Rescue Association reported early Saturday morning, with the federation adding in a separate post Dickey was stable and given two units of blood.
Rescue teams from Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria Hungary, Poland and Croatia have been placed throughout different checkpoints in the cave, which has a total depth of 4,186 feet.
15 hours. That’s the approximate time it would take for an experienced, able-bodied caver to return from where Dickey is.
Dickey, 40, started suffering from abdominal bleeding on August 31 while on a 14-person expedition. He has been an instructor with the National Cave Rescue Commission for 10 years, and was more than 3,400 feet below the surface when he became sick and experienced a decrease in blood circulation. He received help from a Hungarian cave rescue team about a day after his team made a distress call to the European Cave Rescue Association. Dickey was able to walk on his own by Wednesday. Since then, rescue teams have installed communications equipment in the cave and blasted open narrow passages to prepare for Dickey’s arrival on the stretcher, according to the New York Times. Some tight parts of the ascent will require belly crawls, according to CBS. Morca Cave is the third-deepest cave in Turkey and the 74th-deepest cave in the world, according to the Cave Exploration Society.
Turkey Cave Rescue: What To Know About The Sick American Stuck 3,000 Feet Beneath The Surface (Forbes)
Rescuers Blast Open Passages to Extract Sick Explorer From Cave (New York Times)