A rescue operation has been launched to rescue American caver Mark Dickey, who is trapped hundreds of meters underground in southern Turkey.
The operation began at 3.28pm local time (8.28am ET) on Saturday, a week after Dickey first fell ill during an expedition, according to the Turkish Spelunking Federation.
“Mark was transported on a stretcher starting at 15:28 local time (GMT+3),” the Turkish Caving Federation wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Bulent Genk, president of the Cave Exploration Federation, told CNN on Thursday that the rescue could take days because the cave is so deep and narrow, but some experts said it could take up to two weeks.
Dicky fell ill with a suspected gastrointestinal bleed while on a mission over the weekend in the 1,276-meter-deep (4,186-foot) Moka sinkhole in the Moka Valley near Anamur, southern Turkey, according to the Turkish Spelunking Federation.
The European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) received a call on September 2 saying Dickie was suffering from severe stomach pains, and reports the next day said he needed outside help due to his “increased instability.” His condition has since stabilized, according to the Turkish Caving Federation.
Recep Salci of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said nearly 200 rescuers were on site trying to free Dickie, including dozens working inside the cave.
“Some parts of the cave are very narrow, so it will be a difficult operation,” Salchi said, adding that a stretcher would be used to help Dickie leave the cave.
ECRA said on Friday that doctors had been working to improve Dickie’s health so that he could make the “difficult” ascent to the surface “without further complications,” noting that “rescue teams are working on this by installing additional ropes and fixtures.” Come and prepare the way to the entrance” “.
ECRA said the operation plan divided the cave into seven sections and assigned responsibilities to rescue teams from different countries at different depths. Rescue teams from Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Italy, Croatia and Bulgaria all participated in the rescue.
The federation said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Dickey had fallen ill and was placed under observation at the cave base camp.
A doctor is in the cave with Dickie, and the rescue team is receiving their instant messages through established communication lines.
‘I need a lot of help getting out of here’
In a video shared by Turkey’s Communications Agency on Wednesday, Dicky said that although he was “very close to the edge,” the quick response of Turkish authorities may have saved his life.
“As you can see, I’m up, I’m alert, I’m talking. But I’m not healed inside, so I’m going to need a lot of help to get out of here,” he said, praising the cave community.
“This is generally a great opportunity in the caving community to show how well the international community can work together. So I’d like to see a lot of people from many countries come together. We look after our own people. It’s really It is in special need of care.”
The rescue operation, first announced on Monday, could take days because the cave is deep and narrow, the federation’s president, Bulent Genc, told CNN on Thursday, adding that experienced explorers It may take cavers up to 15 hours to complete the rescue. Reach the surface under ideal conditions.
ECRA, which was involved in the operation, said rescue missions at such depths are “very rare and extremely difficult” and require “many experienced cave rescuers.”
Gretchen Baker from the National Cave Rescue Council (NCRC), who has known and worked with Dickie for many years and has been in constant communication with the rescue team, expressed cautious optimism that Dickie would make it out of the cave safely.
“The team on site is very happy that Mark’s condition seems to be improving so it doesn’t look like he’s going to have to be in trouble anymore,” Baker told CNN’s Isa Soares on Thursday. [rescue] The entire exit was littered with rubbish. “
“The more help he can provide, the faster the rescue can happen,” she said.
Baker said that while Dickey’s medical condition has improved, even with his help, the rescue operation still has a long way to go.
“We expect it will take several days to get him out of the cave,” she said.
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