Falling ill, American explorer stuck in Turkish cave depends on fellow cavers, local rescuers

An American explorer found himself trapped deep in Türkiye’s third-deepest cave some 1,276 meters (4,186 feet) below the surface with suspected stomach bleeding, but help was quickly dispatched.
With Mark Dickey’s life in the balance, the combined efforts of Turkish and Hungarian rescue teams, braving the treacherous cave terrain, brought him swift medical attention while working for a way to get him to the surface.
On Sept. 3, Dickey, an intrepid explorer, found himself in distress in the Morca Sinkhole in the southern Mersin province thousands of feet below the cave’s entrance. Dickey’s health improved following medical intervention, as seen in a video captured by Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency AFAD (officials) about 1,040 m (3,412 ft) within the cave, where he was moved up.
Dickey, visibly moved, extended his heartfelt thanks to the caving community, the Turkish government, and the Turkish cavers who played pivotal roles in his rescue.
Stressing the tight-knit nature of the caving community, Dickey said: “I do know that the quick response the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I needed, in my opinion, saved my life. I was very close to the edge … So many thanks to the Turkish government and the Turkish cavers that are helping to support the international community here.”
He added: “I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance.”
Saying that he is not fully recovered, Dickey explained: “As you can see, I’m up, I’m alert, I’m talking. But I’m not healed on the inside yet. So I’ll need a lot of help to get out of here.”
Depending on his condition, Dickey may have to be carried out by stretcher, but as some passages to the top are too narrow for that, it may take him days or even weeks to get out, according to press reports.
In the video, a Hungarian team official reported that Dickey’s condition had improved significantly after he was given medical care.
Dickey was part of a 14-person spelunking team who descended into Morca before he showed signs of gastrointestinal distress, believed to be stomach bleeding.
As a precaution, AFAD, the Turkish National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE), and emergency health and gendarmerie teams were stationed in the region.
Members of the Turkish Caving Federation and caving experts from various countries are working in a coordination tent set up by AFAD to plan Dickey’s safe exit from the cave.
Since the cave is at an altitude of 2,200 m (7,217 ft) in the Taurus Mountains, a helicopter is kept ready in the region.