American caver Mark Dickey, who was trapped in one of the deepest caves in southern Turkey for 12 days after he became ill, was rescued Tuesday by emergency workers. Photo courtesy of Dickey/Facebook
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- American caver Mark Dickey, who was trapped in one of the deepest caves in southern Turkey for 12 days after he became ill, has been rescued by emergency workers.
It is "amazing to be above ground again," Dickey, who was all smiles, told reporters as he was carried on a stretcher to a medical tent.
"I was underground for far longer than ever expected with an unexpected medical issue," he added, while thanking his rescuers and the Turkish government.
Dickey, 40, became stranded on Aug. 31 -- more than 3,400 feet below the surface of the Morca Sinkhole in Morca Valley -- after suffering from suspected gastrointestinal bleeding.
Video shows him being carried on a stretcher by rescuers through dangerous terrain inside the cave, before being hoisted to safety around 12:37 a.m., local time Tuesday, according to the Turkish Caving Federation.
He is "out in the hands of a rescue worker. He seems fine at first look. He will take a chopper to Mersin hospital," Recep Salci of Turkey's disaster and emergency management authority announced.
Dickey, who serves as the leader of the New Jersey Response Team, had been helping with the exploration of the cave when he "suddenly became ill with intestinal problems that rapidly progressed into life-threatening bleeding and vomiting," the group said in a statement last week.
On Saturday, Dickey was moved by an international rescue team of 200 workers to 590 feet below the surface, where he received high doses of medication for his stomach and a blood transfusion. A doctor with Dickey inside the cave, which consists of numerous narrow passages that in some places require a rappel, said while the caver's condition had improved he would not be able to climb out on his own.
"The medical status of the casualty is stable," the European Cave Rescue Association said in a statement Sunday. "The next planned stop is at -300m. The members of the different rescue teams are in a good physical condition."
The Turkish Caving Federation announced Tuesday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Dickey had made it out of the cave.
"Thus, the cave rescue part of the operation has ended successfully," the federation said. "We congratulate all those who have contributed."