Rescuers in Turkey rush to save American explorer trapped deep in Turkish cave
Caver Mark Dickey became sick while exploring the Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains and needs assistance getting out of the cave
A frantic rescue operation is underway Thursday in southern Turkey to save an American explorer trapped in a cave around 3,200 feet below the surface.
Caver Mark Dickey became sick while exploring the Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains. The 40-year-old was suffering gastrointestinal bleeding, but he is doing better now — he “has stopped vomiting and eaten for the first time in days,” The Associated Press reported.
How does the cave rescue operation to save an American explorer work?
“The operation is logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world,” the Turkish Caving Federation told NBC News.
Communication takes five to seven hours and goes through runners, per AP, “who go from Dickey to the camp below the surface where wire communications to talk to the surface have been set up.”
Around 150 rescuers are involved in the “complex” operation to rescue Dickey — a mission that could take days because of how deep and narrow the cave is, requiring short movements to carry Dickey out on a stretcher, CNN reported.
“Mark’s condition has continued to improve,” the Speleological Federation of Turkey tweeted. “... Plans are underway to start removing the stretcher soon.”
Why was Mark Dickey exploring the Turkish cave?
Dickey is considered “a highly trained caver and a cave rescuer himself, according to the European Cave Rescue Association, and he was in the cave expedition mapping the 4,186 foot deep cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association before he became sick.
“You can’t say strenuous enough,” Carl Heitmeyer, fellow caving enthusiast and public information officer for the New Jersey Initial Response Team, told NBC News about Dickey. “Mark is an elite caver, there’s only a couple thousand people of his caliber in the world who are doing really deep systems like this with the technical rope skills and the physical ability.”
What happened during other cave rescue missions?
Cave rescue missions are tricky and complicated. In 2018, the rescue mission to save 11 young soccer players and their coach from a cave in Thailand captivated the world. According to BBC, all of those trapped were saved, but a Thai soldier died during the rescue attempts.
In Utah, a tragic accident claimed the life of John Jones in 2009, the Deseret News reported. Jones became trapped in a narrow section of Nutty Putty Cave, located west of Utah Lake. Rescuers attempted to save Jones and were able to pull him up using a rope-pulley system, but hours after pulling him loose, an equipment failure caused him to be dropped back into the same narrow crevice, where the 26-year-old ultimately died.