Cave rescue teams launch major operation to rescue American explorer in southern Turkey – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

ISTANBUL (AP) — Rescue experts from across Europe gathered in a cave in Turkey on Thursday and launched an operation to rescue an American researcher trapped about 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) below the surface after suffering a gastrointestinal bleed.

Veteran cave explorer Mark Dickey, 40, suddenly fell ill during an expedition in Morca Cave in the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey, the European Association of Cave Rescuers said.

According to a New Jersey-based cave rescue group of which he is a member, Dickey, who had been bleeding and losing fluid from his stomach, is doing better, is no longer vomiting and has eaten for the first time in days. It is unclear what caused his medical problem.

The New Jersey First Response Team said Dickey was “very sick” and was about 1,000 meters below the surface. The rescue will require many teams and constant medical care, the group said.

Communication with Dickey takes approximately five to seven hours and is carried out by runners walking from Dickey to the subsurface camp, where wire connections have been set up to communicate with the surface.

The New Jersey group says the cave is cold – about 4-6°C (39-42°F).

Dinko Novosel, a Croatian cave rescuer and chairman of the European Association of Cave Rescuers, said it will be a challenge to successfully rescue Dickey.

“This is a very complex cave rescue operation,” Novosel said. “So far there has been no case in the world where we have carried out a major cave rescue operation.”

Rescue teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Turkey are involved in the operation to rescue him from the depths.

Dickey suffered gastrointestinal bleeding while descending into the cave and is unable to pull himself out under his own power, the European Cave Rescue Association said on its website.

The group described Dickey as “a highly skilled speleologist and cave rescuer himself” who is known as a speleologist or speleologist through his participation in many international expeditions. He is secretary of the association’s medical committee.

Experts say the rescue operation could take days or even weeks, depending on conditions.

According to Yusuf Ogrenecek of the Speleological Federation of Turkey, Dickey was on an expedition mapping the 1,276-meter (4,186-foot) deep Morca cave system for the Anatolian Speleology Group Association (ASPEG) when he ran into trouble about 1,000 meters deeper.

Ogrenecek told the Associated Press later Thursday that Dickey’s condition had stabilized and was improving. He said the American was in “good spirits” and that doctors would decide whether Dickey could leave the cave on a stretcher or under his own power.

The Turkish disaster relief organization AFAD and the rescue team UMKE are working with Turkish and international cavers on a plan to lift Dickey out of the cave system, the rescue association said.

More than 170 people are currently involved in the rescue operation, including doctors, paramedics caring for Dickey and experienced cavers, Ogrenecek said, adding that the rescue operation could take up to two to three weeks.

A rescue team from the Italian National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Team will fly to Turkey on Thursday evening. A total of around 50 rescuers will be ready at the entrance to the cave early Friday to take part in the operation led by Turkish authorities.

Marton Kovacs of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service said the cave was being prepared for his safe rescue. Narrow passages are widened to accommodate a stretcher and the risk of falling rocks is also addressed.

The rescue teams hope that the rescue can begin on Saturday or Sunday. Kovacs said lifting Dickey would likely take several days and that several bivouac sites would be prepared along the way so Dickey and rescue teams could rest.

The cave has been divided into several sections, with each country’s rescue teams responsible for one section.

The Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, made up of volunteer rescuers, was the first to reach Dickey’s location and administered emergency blood transfusions to stabilize his condition. Another Hungarian team of 15 to 20 rescuers will leave Hungary on Thursday evening on a government-provided military aircraft and arrive at the rescue site on Friday morning, Kovacs said.

Six mountain rescuers, including two paramedics, left for Antalya to help with the rescue operation, Jerzy Siodlak, the head of the Polish mountain rescue service GOPR, said on RMF24 radio on Wednesday.

Thirteen other rescuers from southern Poland were also ready to join the rescue operation, GOPR authorities said. Siodlak noted that the operation will be challenging given the American’s condition and the need to keep him medically fit for the rescue operation in difficult conditions.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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