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A massive rescue effort is underway in Turkey as an American speleologist remains trapped more than 3,200 feet inside a cave.

Mark Dickey, 40, became sick and began suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding during an expedition in the Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, according to the European Cave Rescue Association. He was last known to be approximately 3,400 feet inside the cave.

He has been unable to leave the cave on his own since Saturday, the association said, and more than 150 Turkish and international cave rescue experts are leading the effort to save him. Rescue personnel include teams from Italy, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria and Poland.

Dickey, who is the secretary of the association’s medical committee, is described on its website as “a highly trained caver and a cave rescuer himself” who has participated in many international expeditions.


The cave entrance

Mark Dickey, a 40-year-old U.S. cave expert, is trapped more than 3,200 feet inside the Morca cave, one of Turkey’s deepest caves. (Video from Turkey’s IHA news agency via Reuters)

A speleologist is a scientist who studies caves or a person who goes into caves as a sport.

The cave, with a depth of 4,186 feet, is Turkey’s third deepest.

Mark Dickey

Mark Dickey, the U.S. caver who is currently trapped near Morca, poses in Mentone, Alabama, May 12, 2023. (National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC)/Handout via REUTERS)


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

Marton Kovacs of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service said the plan includes having to widen the cave’s narrow passages to accommodate a stretcher that will be used to hoist him more than 3,280 feet to the surface. They have also discussed the potential danger of falling rocks.

Vehicles, people

Rescuers from around the world are contributing to the effort to save Mark Dickey, the U.S. caver who became trapped Saturday. (Video from Turkey’s IHA news agency via Reuters)

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

A fundraiser which has raised over $40,000 toward his rescue.

Emergency personnel

A team of medial personnel were able to find Mark Dickey, 40, inside the cave and gave him a blood transfusion to stabilize his condition. (Video from Turkey’s IHA news agency via Reuters)

Kovacs said lifting Dickey will likely take several days and that several bivouac points are being prepared along the way so the rescue personnel and Dickey can rest.

People standing near the cave

More than 150 international cave experts are attempting to rescue Mark Dickey, 40, an American who suffered a health episode inside the cave. (Video from Turkey’s IHA news agency via Reuters)

Dickey was initially found and treated by the volunteer Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, which provided emergency blood transfusions to stabilize his condition.

The cave, surrounding area, dirt

The cave, with a depth of 1,276 metres (4,186 feet), is Turkey’s third deepest. (Video from Turkey’s IHA news agency via Reuters)


Dickey’s current condition is not immediately clear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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