Rescuers Race to Save American Man Who Fell Ill While Thousands of Feet Deep Inside Turkish Cave

“The operation is logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world,” the Turkish Caving Federation told NBC News

Rescue efforts are continuing to save an American man trapped thousands of feet inside a cave, who became ill while exploring, according to the Turkish Caving Federation.

Mark Dickey, 40, had begun his expedition into Morca Sinkhole cave — the third-deepest cave in Turkey, with a depth of 4,186 feet — on Saturday when he experienced gastrointestinal bleeding, according to NBC News.

The Turkish Caving Federation, which is working with Turkey’s government on the rescue, said Monday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Dickey became sick at a depth of about 3,675 feet and "was placed under observation at the cave base camp," located at around 3,412 feet.

<p>Turkish Caving Federation Facebook</p>

Turkish Caving Federation Facebook

On Tuesday, the federation said they were able to send down six units of blood to caver paramedics who were with Dickey at base camp in order to help "stabilize his condition," as local and international cave rescue teams made their way to the site.

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Dickey’s condition had "improved slightly" by Tuesday, but paramedics said in their assessment that it was “not possible for him to climb out on his own.”

The Turkish Caving Federation noted that it would take about 15 hours for an experienced caver to get from the cave base camp, where he was located, back up to the entrance in ideal conditions due to “narrow winding passages and several rappels.”

“The operation is logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world,” the group told NBC News. They also noted on X that “a long and challenging rescue operation” had been “initiated to carry Mark out on a stretcher.”

The caving federation said Dickey’s condition continued to improve on Wednesday and his bleeding had stopped and he was “able to walk on his own.”

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The U.S. National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) also gave its own update on the situation on Facebook, saying that “more cave rescue teams are arriving” at the site and they are “dividing the cave up into sections” to set up rope lines for the rescue.

“It's expected to take at least several days to get Mark out of the cave,” the latter organization said in a statement.

Gretchen Baker, the group's national coordinator, told NBC News that Dickey has been an instructor with the NCRC for at least 10 years, and that he had been co-leading an expedition to find and map a new passage in the Turkish cave.

His parents, Andrew and Deborah Ann Dickey, noted in a statement to the outlet that he was also with his fiancée and fellow caver, Jessica, at the site.

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