A US citizen trapped in Turkey’s third deepest cave for more than a week has been pulled to safety, rescuers say.
More than 150 people were involved in efforts to save caver Mark Dickey after he developed stomach problems in the Morca Cave on 2 September.
Organisers say it was one of the largest and most complicated underground rescues ever mounted.
The lowest point of the Morca Cave, in a remote part of the south, reaches nearly 1.3km (0.8 miles) below ground.
Dickey said he thought he would not survive the ordeal after his condition worsened.
“The only feeling that I think I have is this curve of ‘Will I live?’ It literally went through my head, I was like ‘This is a bell curve’. Like seriously, I’m insane that way,” he told reporters.
“It’s like ‘This isn’t that serious, I’m not going to die’, this is ‘ok, like I’ve got some blood going on here but it’s bacterial, it’s an infection, whatever’.
“Then I start throwing up blood and blood is coming out in more quantity that you’re going to live with if it keeps happening… I kept throwing up blood. Then my consciousness started to get harder to hold on to and I reached a point where I said, ‘I’m not going to live’,” he added.
Dickey had been co-leading a team to map a new passage in the cave when he began to suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding.
His condition improved after he was given a blood transfusion. He was then strapped to a stretcher and was slowly carried out.
Dickey, who hails from New Jersey, is said to be a hardened caver with over 20 years’ experience.
He has been an instructor with the US National Cave Rescue Commission for 10 years, teaching a variety of cave rescue classes. He is also listed as the body’s International Exchange Program Co-ordinator on its website.
He had been co-leading the expedition to the Morca Cave since the end of August, according to the Hungarian Cave Rescue Service, who have also been assisting with the operation.