American researcher Mark Dickey has been rescued from the Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus mountains on 12 September, following a days-long rescue effort involving 190 people.
Dickey – an experienced caver – had become stranded on 2 September, approximately 1,000m below the cave entrance, after falling seriously ill with stomach bleeding. He had been on an expedition to map the cave on behalf of the Anatolian Speleology Group Association.
The affliction rendered him too ill to leave the cave – which features steep vertical sections, as well as mud and low-temperature water in the more level areas – and his fellow explorers on the expedition raised an alarm.
A rescue operation was subsequently launched, with experts – including doctors, paramedics, and experienced cavers – coming from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Turkey to support the effort.
Dickey had reported on 3 September that he began throwing up large amounts of blood, and that he struggled to remain conscious.
A complex operation
Once located, rescuers administered IV fluids and blood, before carrying him out using a stretcher, making stops at temporary camps along the way to the surface.
In order to carry the stretcher out of the cave, rescuers had to widen some of the cave’s passages, install pulleys and ropes in the various vertical sections.
A rotating team, comprised of a doctor and three or four other rescuers, took turns to monitor Dickey’s situation, with the aim of addressing any physical or psychological issues.
The Speleological Federation of Turkey reported that Dickey finally exited the cave at 12:37am local time on Tuesday 12 September, and was now being tended to by emergency medical workers at a nearby encampment.
Dickey said that it was ‘amazing to be above ground’, and thanked the Turkish government and the international caving community for its rapid response.
Serious health issues can occur to even the most seasoned travellers, and this story emphasises the vital importance – and effectiveness – of taking the proper precautions when travelling abroad. Lauren Haigh investigated how insurers are approaching the growing demand for ‘extreme tourism’ in the August 2023 ITIJ.