Teams in Turkey Try to Rescue Sick American From Underground Cave

Emergency teams are trying to rescue a 40-year-old American man who fell ill while more than 3,000 feet under ground during a cave expedition in southern Turkey, recovery crews said on Thursday.

The European Cave Rescue Association said in a statement that it received an initial report of the illness on Saturday, and it soon became clear that the man, Mark Dickey, himself a cave expert and rescuer, had gastrointestinal bleeding and was unable to leave the cave on his own.

The association said the rescue from the Morca Cave in southern Turkey would be challenging given how deep Mr. Dickey was.

“Rescue missions from such deepness are very rare, extremely difficult and need many very experienced cave rescuers,” it said.

A photo released by the National Cave Rescue Commission shows Mark Dickey in Mentone, Ala., in May.Credit…National Cave Rescue Commission, via Reuters

The Speleological Federation of Turkey, which is helping with the rescue, said Thursday that Mr. Dickey’s condition had improved and that he might be able to leave the cave with help.

“Mark is getting better,” the federation wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Doctors will decide whether it is possible for him to come out without a stretcher.”

Yaman Ozakin, a spokesman for a rescue team affiliated with the Speleological Federation of Turkey, said a plan was underway to send a special harness to the cave that included a seat to lift Mr. Dickey, out of the cave. But extracting him that way could take a long time, he said.

“It would take 15 hours for a perfectly healthy, experienced caver to come out from that depth,” Mr. Ozakin said, adding that the cave was full of narrow, meandering passageways.

Mr. Dickey had been part of an expedition of 14 people, Mr. Ozakin said. Rescue workers said that he had been with two people at the time he fell sick, with other members of the expedition elsewhere in the cave system, or waiting outside to enter.

Medical teams from Hungary and Bulgaria managed to reach Mr. Dickey and other members of his expedition in the cave earlier this week, set up a tent and give him medical care, according to the European Cave Rescue Association. Rescuers from Italy, Croatia and Poland were also operating in the cave, cave experts said.

The Morca Cave, which is mainly made of limestone, is the third-deepest in Turkey, with a depth of 4,186 feet, or 1,276 meters, according to the Turkish federation. It is more than 13,000 feet long.

The European Cave Rescue Association said Mr. Dickey was a highly trained caver and a well-known figure in the international community of speleologists, or cave experts, who had participated in many expeditions around the world.

He is also a senior member of the European Cave Rescue Association’s medical committee, and an instructor for cave rescue organizations in the United States, according to the statement.

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