MERSIN, Turkey (Reuters) – An American cave explorer trapped more than 1,000 metres underground in a cave in southern Turkey has recorded a video message to say he was up and alert after a team of rescuers reached him with medical supplies.
Mark Dickey, 40, was on an international exploration mission in the Morca cave in Mersin province’s Taurus mountains when he began suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding at a depth of 1,040 metres (3,412 ft). More than 150 rescuers from Turkey and other nations have been working to save him.
“Hi, I’m Mark Dickey from nearly a thousands metres,” Dickey said in the message, dressed in a red puffer jacket and using a headlamp. “As you can see, I’m up, I’m alert, I’m talking. But I’m not healed on the inside yet, so I’m going to need a lot of help to get out of here,” he said.
Dickey said he was “very close to the edge” when the team reached him with medical and survival supplies and thanked the Turkish government and rescuers, saying this was “a great opportunity to show how well the international world can work together”.
Footage from the operation showed rescuers setting up shelters in the cavity where he was found and chatting with Dickey. Other teams from Turkey and elsewhere set up camp outside the country’s third deepest cave.
Tulga Sener, the head of the rescue commission medical unit, told Reuters that Dickey’s health condition was stable and his vital signs normal, adding that three doctors would attend to him on his way up.
The rescue operation was divided into seven sections, each given to a team from a different country, due to the complexity of the operation, according to Recep Salci, the head of search and rescue for Turkey’s AFAD disaster management authority.
“Of course, this is not a cave that can be reached on foot,” Salci said. “It takes 12 hours for a caver to get down and 16 hours to climb up,” he said.
The operation to bring Dickey out could take days, with explosives needed to expand some narrow spaces to allow safe passage, he added.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Ros Russell)