Turkish and international cave rescue experts are working to save a 40-year-old American speleologist who became ill and is trapped more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into a cave in southern Turkey.

Mark Dickey became sick during an international expedition in Morca cave in southern Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, according to the European Cave Rescue Association. He has gastrointestinal bleeding and has been unable to leave the cave on his own, the association said on its website.

It described Dickey as “a highly trained caver and a cave rescuer himself” who has participated in many international expeditions. He is secretary of the association’s medical committee.

Turkish disaster relief agency AFAD and rescue team UMKE are working with Turkish and international cavers on a plan to hoist Dickey out of the cave system, the rescue association said.

Marton Kovacs of the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service said the cave is being prepared for his safe extraction. Narrow passages are being widened to accommodate the stretcher that rescuers plan to use to hoist him more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) to the surface, and the danger of falling rocks is also being addressed.

The U.S. National Cave Rescue Commission, based in Alabama, said on Facebook early Thursday that multiple rescue teams are working at the site.

The rescue teams, which arrived from Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia and Poland, hope that the extraction can begin on Saturday or Sunday. Kovacs said lifting Dickey will likely take several days, and that several bivouac points are being prepared along the way so that he and rescue teams can rest.

The cave has been divided into several sections, with each country’s rescue team being responsible for one section.

The volunteer Hungarian Cave Rescue Service was the first to arrive at Dickey’s location and provided emergency blood transfusions to stabilize his condition. An additional Hungarian team of 15-20 rescuers was to leave Hungary on Thursday evening on a military plane provided by the government and arrive at the rescue site on Friday morning, Kovacs said.

Turkish officials have forbidden rescuers from providing information on Dickey’s current condition.


Associated Press journalists Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary, and Aritz Parra in Madrid, Spain, contributed to this report.