The American scientist who became stranded deep inside a massive cave in Turkey after falling ill has shared a video message recorded in the cavern, saying he was “close to the edge” but is on the mend thanks to medical help.
It’s been a race against time to rescue Mark Dickey, a 40-year-old experienced caving enthusiast who suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding while exploring the sprawling Morca cave in southern Turkey.
He’s been stuck in the cave, the third-deepest in the country, since Saturday, and it’s too strenuous an endeavor for him to climb out in his current state.
In a video dated Wednesday and shared by the Turkish government to The Associated Press on Thursday, Dickey is seen on his feet and smiling, reassuring viewers by saying, “I’m doing well.”
“I was very close to the edge when Jessica got back to me,” he said of his fiancée who was caving with him. “So many thanks to the Turkish government and the Turkish cavers that are helping to support the international community here.”
He credited the swift response of Turkish medical aid for saving his life.
“I want to thank everyone that’s down here and thank the response of the caving community. The caving world really is a tight-knit group and it’s amazing to see how many people have responded on the surface,” Dickey said.
“We’re still waiting for communications to actually reach down here, so right now it’s a day to two days worth of travel for information to get back and forth,” Dickey said. “So I don’t quite know what’s happened, but I do know that the quick response of the Turkish government to get the medical supplies that I needed, in my opinion, saved my life.”
He reassured the public he’s doing better since being treated.
“I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance,” he said. “As you can see I’m up, I’m alert, I’m talking, but I’m not healed on the inside yet so, I’m going to need a lot of help to get out of here.”
Towards the end of the video Dickey became emotional as he thanked the response effort and said, “It’s really special to be taken care of.”