Teams Try to Rescue Sick American 3,000 Feet Below Ground in Turkish Cave

Emergency teams are trying to rescue a 40-year-old American man who fell ill while more than 3,000 feet underground during an expedition in southern Turkey, the European Cave Rescue Association said Thursday.

The association 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, it said in a statement.

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

But the Speleological Federation of Turkey said Thursday that Mr. Dickey’s condition had improved and that he might be able to leave the cave on his own.

“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.”

Medical teams from Hungary and Bulgaria managed to reach Mr. Dickey and other members of his expedition in the cave, set up a tent and give him medical care, according to the federation. Rescuers from Italy, Croatia and Poland were also operating in the cave, it said.

On Wednesday, the federation said that rescue teams were working at different levels of the cave to set up a line so Mr. Dickey could be taken out on a stretcher if necessary.

The Morca Cave is the third-deepest in Turkey, with a depth of 4,186 feet, or 1,276 meters, according to the Turkish federation.

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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