US explorer rescued after nine days in cave

Published September 13, 2023
This handout photograph taken and released by Turkish news agency DHA (Demiroren News Agency) on September 12 shows US caver Mark Dickey, on a stretcher, is carried to an ambulance helicopter as his rescue operation comes to a successful end near Anamur in Mersin province, southern Turkey. — AFP
This handout photograph taken and released by Turkish news agency DHA (Demiroren News Agency) on September 12 shows US caver Mark Dickey, on a stretcher, is carried to an ambulance helicopter as his rescue operation comes to a successful end near Anamur in Mersin province, southern Turkey. — AFP

ISTANBUL: An international team of rescuers on Tuesday pulled to safety a US explorer who spent nine days trapped deep in the narrow tunnels of a Turkish cave with internal bleeding.

“Mark Dickey was removed from the last exit of the cave,” the Turkish Caving Federation said, adding that the “cave rescue part of the operation has ended successfully.”

The 40-year-old explorer developed stomach problems while examining the depths of the Morca Cave, a remote complex of twisting underground passageways in southern Turkiye’s Taurus Mountains.

The cave, Turkiye’s third-deepest, reaches nearly 1.3 kilometres below ground at its lowest point.

Dickey fell ill at a depth of 1,120 metres, sparking what organisers said was one of the largest and most complicated underground rescue operations ever mounted.

An international team of 200 rescuers, fellow explorers and medics began to cautiously pull Dickey to safety after first giving him infusions of blood.

They first strapped him to a stretcher, which sometimes needed to be lifted vertically by rope through particularly narrow passageways. The teams pulling the ropes would occasionally take breaks, climbing back up to the surface before returning underground.

“We congratulate all those who contributed,” the Turkish Caving Federation said.

Officials said Dickey’s health has been steadily improving for a few days.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2023

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