MERSIN, Turkey (Reuters) – A team of rescuers are ready to start moving an American cave explorer trapped more than 1,000 metres (3,280.84 ft) underground in southern Turkey and will have him out “within several days,” Mersin Governor Ali Hamza Pehlivan said on Saturday.
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.
More than 150 rescuers from Turkey and other nations have been working to save him from the country’s third deepest cave.
“Depending on the developments at the stations in between, hopefully the evacuation will have been completed within several days,” Pehlivan told reporters.
Dickey’s condition is “stable but fragile,” Carl Heitmeyer, acting public information officer for the New Jersey Initial Response Team, said in an emailed statement. The cave, difficult, deep and muddy, is “very much eating up rescuers’ gear,” he added.
Footage from the operation showed Dickey lying inside the cave and receiving treatment by a medical team. Footage also showed other teams moving down the caves with ropes and making their way through narrow passages.
“This is a vertical cave with a lot of water,” Agnes Berentes, a photographer with Dickey on the mission, told Reuters. “We have to use our vertical rope techniques. And it has a lot of narrow passages. This will be the hardest part of the areas of the rescue.”
The rescue operation was divided into seven sections, each given to a team from a different country, due to its complexity, said Recep Salci, the head of search and rescue for Turkey’s AFAD disaster management authority, on Friday.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Huseyin Hayatsever; Editing by Richard Chang)