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Thai soccer team becomes trapped in cave

Thai soccer team becomes trapped in cave

It started as a fun after-practice excursion. On June 23, 2018, Ekkapol Chantawong, a 25-year-old Thai youth soccer coach, takes his team, the Wild Boars, to explore a cave he’d visited before, intending to stay just about an hour. But when monsoon rains hit while they’re underground and the cave’s entrance floods, the coach and his 12 players, ages 11-16, become trapped. The team would remain stuck underground for more than two weeks, in what became a global media sensation.

The adventure in the large Tham Luang cave network was to be a quick one. The team brought only a rope, flashlight and some batteries—no extra water or food.

"When we went in and got stuck in the cave, at that moment, we saw water. It's full of water," the coach later told ABC News. "I then volunteered to dive to find out if I could go through or not. If I could go through then everybody is saved. So, we used the rope that we brought with us."

Unable to escape, the boys pulled their coach back in and weeks passed before they were discovered and reached by rescuers. Starving and quickly running out of oxygen, the team survived by drinking fresh water that dripped from a cave stalactite and repeated the mantra “su su”—Thai for “keep fighting”—to remain calm.

The boys' search and rescue stole the global spotlight, as an international group of cave diving experts, led by the Thai Navy Seals, raced to evacuate them. British divers discovered the group about 2.5 miles inside the cave on July 2, 2018. In an extremely dangerous effort, all the boys and the coach were rescued between July 8-10. A volunteer diver and former Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, died July 6, when he ran out of oxygen underwater while attempting to deliver oxygen tanks to the boys.


Thai cave rescue: Here’s how Thai soccer team became trapped in cave

0:30 3D model of Thailand’s Tham Luang cave complex
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The 12 young members of a Thai soccer team and their coach have been rescued from being trapped deep inside a cave, marking the end of a two-week ordeal, but how did they get trapped in the first place?

On June 23, the Wild Boar soccer team ventured into Tham Luang cave, one of Thailand’s longest and toughest to explore, during heavy rains after soccer practice.The cave system is located about 825 kilometres north of Bangkok.

It’s unclear why the boys, aged 11 to 16 years old, and their 25-year-old coach entered the 10-kilometre long cave, but, according to Sky News, it was part of an initiation process for local young men.

WATCH: All 12 boys, their coach rescued from Thai cave

0:50 All 12 boys, their coach rescued from Thai cave

Ben Reymenants, who was involved in the rescue mission, told Sky News that the group left their belongings at the entrance of the cavern “before wading in and trying to go to the end of the tunnel, sort of like an initiation for local young boys to… write your name on the wall and make it back.”

Some of the boys had reportedly explored the cave system in the past, while some knew the system well, but became stuck after a flash flood trapped them deep inside the cave. The team was officially reported missing after not returning home on June 23.

WATCH: Global’s Eric Sorensen takes a look at how a boys soccer team and their coach became trapped in a cave in Thailand.

0:46 How a soccer team and their coach became trapped inside a mountain

The boys are believed to have walked about four kilometres into the winding passageways to an elevated, dry platform dubbed “Pattaya Beach.”

Reymenants described the cave and the rescue efforts to Sky News as “one of the more extreme cave dives I’ve done.”

It’s likely once the rains became heavy, water flooded through the main entrance of the cave and seeped through the limestone walls. As you can see in Global News’ 3D model in the player above, the caves are sometimes flooded to begin with and very narrow. The current and the water flow can be strong as well, while water can pool in the lower slopes of the cave system.

After days of rain, the boys were located on July 2, by two British divers and members of the Thai navy SEALS. It reportedly took three hours for the divers to reach the location of the boys, from the cave’s entrance.

0:23 Thai PM denies rescued boys tranquilized before rescue, but took anti-anxiety drug

Some spots required a 30-metre-deep scuba dive while other required divers to remove their tanks to squeeze through the passageway.

A former member of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit died during the rescue mission after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.

On Sunday, four boys were brought out from the cave after being tethered to rescued divers. Another four were rescued Monday while the final four and their soccer coach were pulled out Tuesday.


Found alive after nine days

Rescue divers initially found the 12 young soccer players and their coach alive on July 3 after they went missing in a Thai cave 10 days earlier. Fighting against time, rain and low oxygen levels, rescuers managed to free the first four boys successfully on July 8. The rescuers faced a complicated and dangerous diving mission to free the rest of the team and their coach.

Why it was so difficult to extricate Thai cave boys


How is Thai soccer team being rescued from cave?

Here’s how the boys are being guided out of #ThamLuang cave complex, with two divers accompanying each of them https://t.co/utNNikBtpW pic.twitter.com/mbowaMzcyU

— Channel NewsAsia (@ChannelNewsAsia) July 9, 2018

Members of the Thai soccer team are fitted with a full-face diving mask with an oxygen tank and are accompanied by two rescue divers. The boys are tethered to a dive line and are slowly guided through the narrow turns of the flooded cave.


Thai Boys Describe How They Survived 2 Weeks In A Dark Cave — And The Moment They Were Found

(CNN) — Members of a Thai youth soccer team and their coach have described their rescue from a flooded cave as a miracle, thanked the experts who saved them and discussed how the experience will affect the rest of their lives. In their first public remarks since emerging from their two-week ordeal last week, the boys recounted their side of an extraordinary story that captured the imagination of the world.

Adul Sam-on (C), one of the twelve boys dramatically rescued from deep inside a Thai cave after being trapped for more than a fortnight, speaks during a press conference in Chiang Rai on July 18, 2018, following their discharge from the hospital. (credit: LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

Dressed in matching team shirts, the boys and their coach appeared happy and relaxed as they faced the world’s media after being discharged from the hospital in Chiang Rai on Wednesday.

Twelve boys and their coach from the “Wild Boars” soccer team arrive for a press conference for the first time since they were rescued from a cave in northern Thailand last week, on July 18, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. (credit: Linh Pham/Getty Images)

The boys, all members of the Wild Boars junior soccer team, introduced themselves to the media, shared their nicknames and told the audience what position they played on the team.

Sitting beside the boys were the Thai Navy SEALs who stayed inside the cave with them after they were found, as well as members of the medical team who looked after them after the rescue.

In a carefully arranged press conference, for which questions were pre-screened, the boys told of the moment they realized they were trapped, how they adapted to their surroundings and their eventual joy at being found, ten days later.

Authorities said that more than 100 questions were sent in from members of the media, though only a handful were selected. All 12 players and their coach had been under close supervision at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, near the border with Myanmar, since they were rescued from the cave on July 10.

Until Wednesday, the question of why the boys and their coach had decided to go into the Tham Luang cave on June 23 has been a point of speculation. It had been suggested the boys had been engaged in an initiation rite, or had been celebrating a team-member’s birthday.

In fact, 25-year-old coach Ekapol Chantawong explained, the boys were merely curious to look inside as some of them had never visited it before. The coach, whose nickname is Ake, said it was not unusual for the group to participate in group activities after soccer practice on Saturday afternoons.

They explored the underground tunnels for about an hour, before deciding to turn back. But by this time the cave had become partially flooded and their exit was blocked. “Someone said are we lost?” said Ake, who reassured the group that help would come.

At his point, the realization dawned that they were trapped. With the entrance flooded and no obvious way out, the group retreated further into the cave to find somewhere to to rest for the night. “We moved further in for about 200 meters,” Ake said. “There we found a bit of slope and there was a small water source inside the cave.” Ake knew that the water dripping from the roof of the cave would be purer than the dirty floodwater on the floor. “I told them it’s better to be near a water source,” Ake said.

“Before we slept, I told them, ‘Let’s say a prayer.’ So we said a prayer that night.”

The team were not scared, Ake told the enraptured audience, explaining that he hoped the water level would drop the next day, and that help would arrive.

Waters rising

The waters did not subside, however. Instead, Ake described the moment that he heard the sound of flowing water — and saw the levels rising fast. In response, he ordered the group to find higher ground. Concerned that they might soon be submerged, he instructed the boys to start digging and look for a potential exit.

Having eaten after soccer practice, the boys had no food during their ordeal. Instead, they filled themselves with water from the cave. “I tried not to think about food because it would make me hungry,” said the youngest of the boys, 11-year-old Chanin “Titan” Wibrunrungrueang.

The moment they were found

Adun Sam-On, the 14-year-old boy who became famous after responding in English to the first diver to reach the group, spoke of his shock on realizing they had been discovered.

Adul Sam-on (C), one of the twelve boys dramatically rescued from deep inside a Thai cave after being trapped for more than a fortnight, speaks during a press conference in Chiang Rai on July 18, 2018. (credit: LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

Adun, like other members of the group, was busy digging — looking for a possible way out — when some of the boys thought they heard the sound of people talking.

Coach Ake told the group to stay quiet. He asked one of the boys to move closer to the ledge and shine a flashlight on the water, but the boy was too scared, said Adun, who volunteered instead.

When the British divers breached the surface, Adun said he was so shocked, all he could think to say was “hello!”

“I thought this was really a miracle. I didn’t know how to respond,” Adun said.

The boys described how they formed a bond with the Thai Navy SEALs who remained with them in the cave while rescuers worked out a plan to free them. Titan described how they played checkers — and that one of the Navy SEALs sitting alongside them at the press conference always won. “He was king of the cave,” Titan said.

When the decision was made to extract the boys through the floodwaters, coach Ake joked he and the boys made the decision on who should go first based on who lived the furthest away. Ake thought the rescued kids would go straight home and those who got out first could spread the word, not realizing the global media had descended on the cave.

Lessons learned

When asked about the lessons they’ve learned from the incident, Ake said he was going to live life more carefully.

Ardun said though people can’t predict the future, the experience had taught him about the consequences of acting carelessly.

Other boys said though they still dreamed of becoming soccer players, some said they now wanted to become Navy SEALs.

Many of the boys apologized to their parents for not telling them they went to the cave.

Now that the boys’ ordeal is over, there are concerns over their long-term psychological health. “We don’t know what wounds the kids are carrying in their hearts,” said Tawatchai Thaikaew, an official at the Thai justice ministry. He urged the media to respect the boys’ privacy in the future, out of concern for their health, Reuters said.

Some of the boys are stateless, and the process of granting them Thai citizenship is under way, officials confirmed.

The largely joyous mood of the press conference was tempered, however, when the boys and their coach discussed the loss of Saman Kunan, the former Thai Navy SEAL who had died during the rescue effort. Coach Ake said the team were shocked to learn of Saman Kunan’s death, called him a hero and said he had sacrificed his life for theirs.

Twelve boys and their coach pay tribute to the Navy SEAL who died helping rescue them from a cave in northern Thailand last week, on July 18, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

In memory of the navy diver, Ake said the boys would spend time as novice Buddhist monks — a practice considered a high honor in Thailand.

(The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)


Thai cave boys were actually handcuffed, heavily sedated during dramatic rescue, new book claims

Thailand: All 12 soccer players and their coach are out of the cave after 17-day race against deteriorating weather.

The dramatic three-day rescue of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand last year was so complicated that the boys needed to be heavily sedated with their arms handcuffed behind their backs, according to a new book.

The 12 Wild Boars spent more than two weeks trapped in the Thailand's Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex after being flooded by annual monsoon rains. The last of the members of the cave were pulled out by July 10, drawing celebration across the world.

Thai officials had provided details of the rescue, saying how the boys would use wetsuits and flippers to swim in a buddy system with expert divers to the surface But a reporter who covered the team's ordeal says that's not exactly what happened.

Members of the rescued soccer team and their coach sit during a press conference discussing their ordeal in the cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

In his new book, "The Cave," ABC Australia Southeast Asia correspondent Liam Cochran said that the boys were drugged with ketamine and handcuffed on their journey out of the cave, according to News.com.au.

“To calm nerves, the parents were told the boys were being taught how to dive and the media reported that each of them would be tethered to an air hose and then swim out with one rescue diver in front and another behind,” Cochrane writes in his book. “This was untrue."

To get the team out, Thai officials said experts have had to guide them, diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages. (Fox News)

After the rescue, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the boys were given an anti-anxiety medication, anxiolytic, to help with their perilous removal from the cave.

But Cochrane writes the boys received far stronger drugs, and were handcuffed behind their backs to stop them from ripping off their tightly-fitted face masks if they woke up.

Rescue operations required two divers to go out with each boy through the cave.

“Those who’d been inside the flooded tunnels knew there was no way a child who had never dived before could make it through the muddy and treacherous obstacle course," he writes. “The only hope was to sedate them, put oxygen-fed masks with silicone seals over their faces and let the expert cave divers carry them out."

The first boy to be taken out, 14-year-old Note, was given a sedative to swallow then was injected with ketamine in each leg, according to Cochrane. He then was handcuffed and had cables placed around his wrists and tied behind him.

Entire Thai soccer team, coach freed from cave, Navy says

Thai Navy SEALS report that all 12 members of the team and the coach are out of the cave while four rescuers remain inside.

“This was to ensure that if he did wake up from his ketamine slumber, he wouldn’t try to rip off his face mask, endangering both his life and that of his rescuer," he wrote on his book.

After going through the first flooded chamber of the cave in a harness strapped to another diver, the 14-year-old was medically checked before continuing the journey underway to the surface.

“The two biggest dangers underwater were the boy waking up and panicking, or his mask leaking and turning that plastic and silicone bubble of life over his face into a death trap,” Cochrane writes. “Preventing the mask from becoming dislodged was a constant concern.”

This undated photo from video released via the Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, shows rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page)


The Thai Cave Rescue: What Are the Leadership Lessons?

Few experiences bring the finest display of management principles as the Tham Luang Cave Rescue, an 18-day saga that played out over recent weeks in a Thai forest reserve. Twelve boys, ages 11-16, and their soccer coach braved hunger, thirst, darkness and despair inside the flooded cave system before they were rescued.

The episode holds exemplary lessons of leadership and large-heartedness, according to Wharton management professor Michael Useem and Andrew Eavis, U.K.-based president of the International Union of Speleology, an organization devoted to the study of caves. They discussed the salient takeaways from the rescue mission on the [email protected] show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

The rescue effort was a carefully coordinated strategy involving multiple groups, including dozens of the world’s best divers and cave experts some 10,000 volunteers individuals and organizations that brought in pumps and farmers who willingly allowed pumped out water inundate and kill their crops. The Thai government contributed funding as well as medical, logistical and administrative support. All that happened as the world watched the rescue effort unfold by the minute, brought to them by the roughly 1,500 journalists who had descended on Mae Sai, the town nearest to the caves and on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla and SpaceX, brought a mini-submarine to the rescue effort, but it wasn’t used.

It began with an urge for an extra bit of adventure. On June 23, the 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their 25-year-old assistant coach strayed too far beyond tourist limits at the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand. It was the wet season, and torrential rains flooded the six-mile maze of caves, forcing the boys and their coach to move further inside to an elevated, dry place. Rescue teams found them 10 days later, after using maps provided by Vernon Unsworth, a British spelunker (or cave explorer) who knew the Tham Luang cave system well. Incessant rains prevented an immediate rescue, which eventually began on July 7.

“People who are under dire circumstances with a leadership responsibility have to step forward and exercise it.” –Michael Useem

Brain Power and Muscle

Over the next four days, a team of 18 divers that included Thai SEALs, and British and American divers, rescued each of the trapped individuals one by one, although they were emaciated and had minor health issues. “It was a matter of muscle and brainpower,” said Useem, who is also director of Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management, quoting a news report on the rescue.

While the equipment used in the rescue made up the muscle, Useem said the brainpower came from people such as Narongsak Osatanakorn, the former governor of Chiang Rai province, to whom the Thai government entrusted the task of coordinating the rescue effort. Osatanakorn’s prime tasks included leading the 10,000 rescuers onsite to a common strategy, and “he brought discipline, organization and decisive decision-making,” he added.

Eavis described how the young men got into progressively deeper trouble inside the cave. “What we had was a tourist cave going for something like half a mile…. Beyond that, there were two small passages, and these boys and the coach initially got over-adventurous and they went beyond the show cave and up one of these smaller passages. When they were up there, a wall of water came down…. Some of these boys knew the cave — they’d been in there before — so I suspect they knew that there was a high-level area [further in] where they could go to stop themselves from drowning. And that’s where they were for two weeks in the end.”

[email protected] High School

Tragedy had struck a day before the rescue effort, when Saman Kunam, a retired Thai navy diver, died from oxygen deprivation as he went about setting up oxygen tanks inside the caves for the benefit of the trapped and the rescue teams. “Aside from that terrible, terrible loss of life, this is a miracle,” said Useem, noting that initial estimates had said it would take up to four months to complete the rescue.

Three-pronged Approach

According to Useem, the rescue effort relied on a three-pronged strategy. One was the Thai government that sent money, supplies, Army personnel and other resources. The second was Osatanakorn and his disciplined leadership. Useem quoted Osatanakorn as telling the volunteers, “Anyone who cannot make enough sacrifices can go home and stay with their families. You can sign out and leave straight away. I will not report any of you. But for those who want to work, you must be ready any second, and then just think of them as our own children.”

The third prong was the group of 13 young men that were trapped deep inside the cave. Although the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, has been criticized for leading the boys too far inside the caves, he encouraged them to stretch the limited food they had and battery life left in their flashlight, and to stay positive. “The government, an onsite leader and then [the trapped people] inside the cave pulled it together,” said Useem.

“The cave divers did the sharp end. But they had a great deal of help and a huge number of people facilitating that.” –Andrew Eavis

Chanthawong also taught the boys to stay calm with meditation, according to a Washington Post report. A Buddhist monk who knew Chanthawong sent him a note inside a plastic bottle through one of the divers who went inside, the report adds. The note read: “Be patient. Try to build your encouragement from the inside. This energy will give you the power to survive.”

Useem recalled the Copiapo mine accident in Chile in August 2010, when a cave-in trapped 33 miners, and they were rescued after 69 days. Like the Thai soccer team, the miners spent their time in near total darkness as they were confined 2,300 feet below the ground. In that situation, it was foreman Luis Urzua who kept the miners focused on survival.

Useem said Chanthawong helped the boys find potable water as well. “Apparently, he demonstrated to the boys that if you were very careful coming up against a wall, there was a bit of a water drip and if you got your tongue out, you could actually get some fresh water,” he said. “The rescuers on the surface or at the mouth of the cave couldn’t have done a thing if they got there and the boys had not survived.”

Eavis noted that the age difference between the assistant coach (who was 25) and the boys (aged up to 16) was small. “I don’t know how much control the coach had over them,” he said. “But we know how much he was instrumental in them going in and how much he was instrumental in planning their survival.”

Useem saw the crisis as a calling to the leadership reserve in Chanthawong. “He got them into the mess to begin with, but once there, he held it together himself. People who are under dire circumstances with a leadership responsibility have to step forward and exercise it. And the reports are that he was able to do that indeed.”

The divers had among the most challenging of tasks, but fortunately had to deal with minimal bureaucracy. “The cave divers did the sharp end,” said Eavis. “But they had a great deal of help and a huge number of people facilitating that. The Thai authorities were not very slow at paying the airfares and getting the teams there. And then once they realized what the situation was, they facilitated what the divers wanted. It’s a different world when you’re diving underwater underground. [It’s] crawling along tight passages, full of water … and it is not something that many over-water divers are very comfortable with.” It helped that underwater cave exploration was a hobby for those divers, he added.

“When there is an emergency like this, people step forward expecting no compensation, no material consequence because of the circumstances.” –Michael Useem

Technical Feat

Managing the technical aspects of the rescue was another feat, said Useem. He pointed out that one of the four Thai SEALs who went in and stayed with the trapped soccer team was also a physician. The rescue team had to plan how they would go about the evacuation of those that were trapped, which they ultimately made way for by pumping out about a half billion gallons of water, which he described as “a huge engineering problem.”

Pumping out that water into neighboring Thai farmers’ fields also facilitated the rescue, Useem said, noting that the farmers declined to accept compensation the Thai government offered them for crop losses. “When there is an emergency like this, people step forward expecting no compensation, no material consequence because of the circumstances,” he added, commending especially the divers who participated in the rescue. “And that was demonstrated in spades here as it was back in Chile.”

Eavis pictured the situation the very first set of divers must have faced as they went deep inside the cave. “It’s incredibly dark. It’s something that you need to experience for a while to really understand literally, you don’t know whether your eyes are open or closed and you suddenly find that the dial on your wristwatch is incredibly bright and that is pretty extraordinary,” he said.

“The first very important thing was two divers getting through to start with, and I know they had a real struggle to get through because they were fighting against the current in the water,” Eavis noted. “They almost gave up, but when they did get through the first time, they took a big rope with them and secured it through so that they could then pull themselves through using the rope on subsequent journeys. So that first trip was the really important one. If they hadn’t made it, and if the currents had been a bit stronger or the passage had been a bit smaller, or they hadn’t possibly been quite so brave, the lads would have still been sitting there.”


Youth Soccer Team Found in Cave in Thailand

The 12 boys and their coach had been trapped in a flooded cave for more than a week.

Capt. Anand Surawan of the Thai Navy raised the possibility that, under the worst-case scenario, the 13 would be in the cave for four months until the end of the rainy season.

“I was surprised myself,” said Supanat Danansilakura, chief of public relations for the Royal Thai Navy. “Four months?”

[Read about the history of cave rescues and five missions that worked]

Others argued that it would be hard on the boys and dangerous to leave them in the cave for so long, even if they had light, food and other supplies. They could be injured or risk infection and be harmed psychologically by a prolonged stay in such an environment.

The fact that officials and relatives of the boys were able to even discuss the best way to extract them is itself remarkable.

The boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach disappeared into Tham Luang Cave on June 23 after a Saturday soccer practice. Heavy rain then began to fall, and water rose in the cave complex, blocking their exit.

“When we first discussed this mission, we said right away this mission is impossible,” said the governor of Chiang Rai Province, Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is overseeing the search and rescue operation. “In English, it will be mission impossible, like the movie. But the SEALs were very confident in their ability, and they told us they would bring the boys out.”

Image

The Thai government mounted a huge rescue operation and sent scores of divers into the cave to try to reach the area where the boys were believed to be. A top official said they would spare no expense.

A country that often appears divided between the rural poor and the urban elite found itself united by the hope of finding the missing boys. King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun took a personal interest in the search, sending kitchen trucks to feed the search crews and raincoats to protect them from the downpour.

Half a dozen countries sent teams to help, including the United States, whose team of 30 included 17 Air Force search-and-rescue specialists.

Relatives of the missing spent much of the 10 days of the search waiting for news in plastic chairs under a temporary awning near the operation’s command center.

They jumped and shouted with glee on Monday night when they heard that the group had been found. By then, Thai officials had moved the relatives indoors to a private area, and the throng of journalists covering the search have mostly been kept from speaking to them.

Tham Luang Cave has been a daunting challenge. The seven-mile-long cave system is simple enough to hike and climb through during the dry season. But in the rainy season — in theory from July to November — the complex can fill with water, submerging many of its passageways.

Divers finally had a breakthrough, literally, when they chipped away at rocks and enlarged a passageway that had been too small to pass through while wearing an air tank.

Once they had created a large enough opening, they were able to push on to where they suspected the group was, roughly three miles from the cave entrance.

Mr. Volanthen and Rick Stanton, both civilian British divers, happened to be in the lead Monday night, laying the guide ropes that divers can use to pass through the murky or turbulent water.

It was when Mr. Volanthen ran out of line and surfaced that he saw the group of scrawny boys, some sitting, some standing, on a shelf above the water line.

He was relieved to find all of them alive. The boys were excited about the prospect of food.

“Eat, eat, eat,” one of the boys called out.

The two divers set up a pair of dive lights to illuminate the cave, no doubt the first light the group had seen in days.

It was the first of many deliveries of needed supplies, including food and medicine, over the next 24 hours.

“At the beginning, we had only hearts and manpower,” the governor said. “Lately we have all the resources. Even though we are tired and weary, we are fully equipped.”

Medical teams were giving the group high-protein food to help them regain their strength. And they were assessing how soon the trapped team would be in shape to move out of the cave.

Ben Raymenants, a Belgian diver who took part in the search, said in an interview with Sky News that bringing the boys out underwater in their weakened condition — with strong currents and many narrow passageways — would be a difficult and dangerous operation.

“This is one of the more extreme cave dives that I have done,” he said. “It is very far, and very complex. There is current. The visibility can be zero at times. So getting boys through there one by one, and the risk that they will panic is there. They can’t even swim.”

He continued: “So guiding a boy through in front of you could be quite challenging, especially if the rain picks up and there’s a strong flow and the visibility reduces to zero. When it starts raining the flow is so hard you can barely swim against it.”

He said two Thai Navy medical officers had volunteered to stay with the boys until the water level drops in a few months. There was little rain on Tuesday and the pumping operation is succeeding in sending a large amount of water out of the cave. But heavy rains are likely to return soon.

“It is really hard to give an opinion on what is the best solution,” he said. “I think the weather is going to be the deciding factor.”

Mr. Unsworth, a caver from Britain who lives nearby and has been exploring Tham Luang Cave for more than six years, said it would be far better for the boys to be taken out immediately by experienced cave divers than to be forced to wait for months.

“It is just the logistical thing of how to get them out, because they have never dived before,” he said. “They will have to learn very quickly, like in the next few hours. If not today, it could be tomorrow.”

He said the boys could use full face masks so they would not have to learn how to breathe through a demand valve, which most divers use.

Thai Navy SEAL divers and other experienced cave divers participating in the rescue should be able to take them safely through the cave system’s flooded passageways, he said.

Leaving them underground until the end of the rainy season, he said, “is not an option.”


Thai Soccer Team Missing: Search For Boys Trapped In Cave Enters 7th Day

The search for a missing Thai youth boys soccer team has entered its seventh day, raising fears for the boys and their coach. The team apparently hiked into the Tham Luang Nan Non caves June 23 and become trapped by rising flood waters. The Wild Boars team consists of 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25 year old coach.

The team had explored the caves, a popular hiking spot for tourists and locals, in the past. They began their hike about 1 p.m. local time that Saturday. Hours later, a park ranger in the Chiang Rai province noticed their bikes still chained up at the entrance of the caves long after the park had closed and alerted authorities, according to CNN. Due to heavy rains, floodwaters had risen inside the cave, possibly cutting off the team's only escape route and making access to the cave difficult for rescuers.

The Thai government has gone to great lengths to find the missing boys. They have asked search and rescue teams from the United States military, as well as underwater cave experts from the UK, to help locate the boys and their coach, TIME reported on Thursday. Divers of the Thai Navy SEALS have swum three miles into the cave, while drones have swept the six mile stretch of cave looking for heat signatures.

With each passing day, fears have increased about the boys' survival.

"Physically, it's not a hard cave, it's just very long and it has big passages, small passages," Vernon Unsworth, British cave expert and Chiang Rai resident told CNN, "It's not difficult but if the children have gone in too far then the floodwaters from the far end will be coming through. With the rain, it's not making it any easier."

The mud, floodwater, and narrow passageways throughout the cave have proven difficult for even trained divers to navigate, The New York Times reported on Friday. The Tham Luang caves are a vast network of passageways and possible dry chambers, with signs warning visitors to stay away during the rainy season.

Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, visited the rescue site on Friday and told families, who have been camped outside the caves since the disappearance, to have faith, CBS News reported on Friday.


Watch the video: Missing soccer team found alive in a cave in Thailand after 10 days (January 2022).