Rescuers are attempting to save Mark Dickey, who became sick with gastrointestinal bleeding over 3,000 feet underground (Picture: Reuters / AP)
Rescuers in southern Turkey are racing to save an American researcher who became trapped over 3,000 feet down a sinkhole.
Mark Dickey, an American researcher and experienced caver, was exploring the Morca Sinkhole on September 2 when he became ill with gastrointestinal bleeding, the European Cave Rescue Association (ECRA) said.
The Morca Sinkhole is a 3,675 foot deep cave located in the Taurus Mountains, close to the Turkish city of Mersin. It is the third deepest cave in Turkey, and the 38th deepest in the world.
Dickey, 40, is an experienced cave rescuer who serves as secretary of the ECRA’s medical committee, which is now tasked with coordinating his rescue.
According to the organization, he is a ‘well-known figure in the international speleological community, a highly trained caver, and a cave rescuer himself.’
Dickey fell ill at a depth of 3,674 feet, and was pulled up to the cavers’ base camp located at 3,412 meters below ground.
The team initially called for help asking for medication for the researcher, who they hoped would be able to recover and make it out of the cave by himself.
The next day, however, they called for more help due to the ‘rising destabilization’ of Dickey’s circulation.
ECRA rescuers set up a rope line above the Morca Sinkhole (Picture: AP)
Rescuers have since delivered a total of 10 units of blood to Dickey, who continues to suffer from the gastrointestinal bleeding.
‘His condition appears to have improved slightly compared to yesterday, and hearing about the rescue efforts has boosted his morale,’ the Speleological Federation of Turkey, a member of the ECRA, said on Thursday.
However, he still requires a stretcher in order to move, the rescuers said.
The expedition has since asked for international help through the ECRA. ‘Rescue missions from such deepness are very rare, extremely difficult and need many very experienced cave rescuers,’ the organization said.
Over 170 doctors, paramedics, and cavers have now set up camp outside the sinkhole. The Speleological Federation of Turkey called it ‘logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world.’
Mark Dickey is a member of the ECRA and a well-known cave explorer and rescuer (Picture: Facebook)
In ideal conditions, it usually takes an experienced caver about 15 hours to climb out of Morca Sinkhole, which the ECRA says has ‘narrow winding passages.’
But in this case, experts are estimating the rescue could take as long as three weeks.
As of September 7, there are teams from Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, and Poland working to get Dickey out of the cave.
They are planning to start the extraction process on Saturday or Sunday, and are currently setting up bivouac points for Dickey to rest along the way.
The current plan is to pull Dickey up through the cave using a stretcher connected to ropes lines.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Mark Dickey, an American researcher and experienced caver, was exploring the Morca Sinkhole when he became ill with gastrointestinal bleeding.