Approximately 150 rescue workers racing to save an American man from the third-deepest cave in Turkey after he suffered a medical emergency on Sept. 2, officials say.
Mark Dickey, 40, was co-leading an expedition to find and map a new passage in the Morca Cave system when he began experiencing gastrointestinal bleeding, Sky News reported. Dickey was at a depth of approximately 3,675 feet when he fell ill, but was later moved to a base camp within the cave that sits at a depth of 3,412 feet, according to CNN.
The Turkish Caving Federation, which assisted in the rescue, revealed that Dickey’s condition had been improving, but that a stretcher was needed to safely remove the explorer from the cave, NBC News reported. (RELATED: Firefighters Rescue Hiker Stranded In Cave)
The federation told CNN that six units of blood were delivered to Dickey in the cave in an effort to help stabilize him.
Even with a team of 150 rescuers, the operation to rescue Dickey took 12 days as the cave features long and narrow passages and several points of rappels that are difficult to traverse even in ideal conditions, CNN reported, citing the caving federation.
“The cave is mostly vertical, but it doesn’t go straight down, there are turns in the rope and that complicates things. It makes the climbing more difficult and it just takes time,” Carl Heitmeyer, a friend of Dickey’s and a public information officer for the New Jersey Initial Response Team, told NBC News.
“There’s water in-feeding from two points near the top of the cave and some of the passages are filled with water, and there are tight squeezes and corkscrews where you have to turn your body in a certain way,” Heitmeyer continued.
To make Dickey’s extraction easier, multiple rescue teams arrived at the site and divided the cave into sections, with each team rigging up their respective areas to assist in the extraction, according to the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC).
“The operation is logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world,” the caving federation said, according to NBC News.
Dickey was successfully extracted Sept. 12 after a 12-day effort by rescue teams. “It is amazing to be above ground again,” Dickey stated, according to Reuters. “I was underground far longer than ever expected.” according to ABC News.
Dickey was taken to a local hospital where he remains in intensive care, though is reported to be in good condition, Turkish authorities stated, according to the outlet.