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American man rescued from cave in Turkey after trapped for days

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Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 11, 2023

TURKEY — An American caver has been rescued by emergency workers near Anamur, in southern Turkey, after he became stranded hundreds of meters underground earlier this month.

Mark Dickey is “out in the hands of a rescue worker. He seems fine at first look. He will take a chopper to Mersin hospital,” Recep Salci of Turkey’s disaster and emergency management authority (AFAD) said on Tuesday as footage emerged of him being stretchered out of the cave with a grin on his face.

Speaking near the cave at a medical tent, Dickey said it was “amazing to be above ground again.”

He thanked his rescuers and the Turkish government, whom he said had “saved my life literally no questions asked,” adding: “I was underground for far longer than ever expected with an unexpected medical issue.”

Dickey had been suffering from suspected gastrointestinal bleeding while inside the 4,186 feet Morca Sinkhole in Morca Valley, the Turkish Caving Federation said.

The European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) received a call on September 2 saying that he was experiencing severe gastric pain.

An international rescue operation led by at least 200 aid workers began on Saturday. The operation planned to divide the cave into seven parts and assign responsibility to the rescue teams of different countries – including the United States, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey – at various depths, ECRA said.

Rescue teams had moved Dickey to 590 feet below surface, eventually retrieving him from the cave.

In an update on Monday, the Turkish Caving Federation said Dickey’s rescue was set to be completed “tonight or tomorrow.”

“If everything goes well, it is aimed to rescue Mark completely by tonight or tomorrow,” the federation said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

There was a doctor with Dickey inside the cave, and the rescue team were receiving instant messages from them through an established communications line.

The Turkish Caving Federation said Dickey was removed from the last exit of the cave at 12:37 am local time, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Thus, the cave rescue part of the operation has ended successfully. We congratulate all those who have contributed,” the federation said.

Dickey is an instructor with the National Cave Rescue Commission, where he has worked for 10 years, according to the website of the Caving Academy, a non-profit for cavers founded by Dickey. He is also a medical commission secretary at the European Cave Rescue Association, and the executive director at Caving Academy.

He started caving in the 1990s and has caved in 20 different states in the US, and in 10 different countries, the website said.