london – An American caver trapped underground in Turkey has been hoisted to safety.
Mark Dickey, 40, has been trapped underground since Aug. 31, when he became ill more than 3,400 feet below the surface, according to the New Jersey initial response team he leads.
“It’s great to be back on the ground again,” Dickey told reporters after the rescue, according to Reuters. “I was underground much longer than I expected.”
The Turkish Caving Federation announced that Dickey was rescued from the cave at around 12:37 a.m. local time on Tuesday, calling the operation “successful.”
“We congratulate everyone who contributed!” the caving organization said.
Dickey told reporters that he initially thought he would survive, but as his condition worsened, he began to have doubts.
“Then it started getting harder and harder to hold onto my consciousness, and I got to a point where I said, ‘I’m not going to survive this,'” he said.
The New Jersey Initial Response Team thanked the Turkish Department of Defense, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, the European Cave Rescue Association for their efforts in rescuing Dickey, and the cave rescuers “for their core caving capabilities,” the group said in a statement Zhong told ABC News.
Video taken at the scene shows Dickie lying on a stretcher and being carried out of the cave 12 days after he was trapped.
The rescue team carried Dickie on a stretcher and rested the last 590 feet from him.
“We are extremely relieved and fill us with incredible joy that our son Mark Dickey has been removed from Morca Cave and is in a stable condition. We know this is a An event that was marked by tremendous efforts by everyone involved in the extensive rescue effort. Because,” his parents told ABC News in a statement.
“Mark is strong and we believe in his strength but are also fully aware that he desperately needs huge, immediate support. We are extremely grateful and grateful that he received the support he needed and that the first medical rescue team attended the scene.” When they arrived, he arrived,” his parents said.
Cave officials said a team including medical personnel began evacuating him late last week after his condition improved enough to move him. Volunteers had previously worked to clear the path to the surface.
Dickey’s injuries were serious and life-threatening when a Hungarian cave rescue team arrived Sunday, officials said. Life-saving medical interventions included giving him high doses of stomach medication and a blood transfusion.
Rescuers said that after intervention, Dickie’s condition improved and he was back on his feet.
The European Cave Rescue Association said teams carrying stretchers passed the campsite about 500 meters (1,640 feet) below the surface on Sunday.
“The medical condition of the injured is stable,” the association said in a statement on Sunday night. “The next stop planned is -300 meters, and members of the rescue teams are in good health.”
“He has not had bleeding or vomiting for at least two days,” Senna said in a statement posted in Turkish on social media. “All vital signs, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, state of consciousness, ability to cooperate are completely healthy.”
The New Jersey Initial Response Team previously said in a statement that Dickey had been assisting with the cave expedition when he “suddenly developed intestinal issues that rapidly progressed to life-threatening bleeding and vomiting.” Dickie is the leader of the group, which is made up of volunteers who specialize in cave and mine rescues.
“I have to tell you, I don’t know what to say, it’s overwhelming, this is the first time,” Dickey told reporters.
ABC News’ Doug Lantz, Myles Cohen and Teddy Grant contributed to this report.