Thai authorities deciding how to rescue soccer team from flooded cave

Posted July 04, 2018

Divers are still about 3 km away from the spot where they hope to find 12 boys and their football coach who have been missing in a flooded cave in Thailand for eight days, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Family members celebrate while camping out near Than Luang cave following news all members of children's football team and their coach were alive in the cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 2, 2018.

They ask how long they have been underground and whether they can leave now. The system of passageway of the cave to the team is complicated and hard for divers to navigate, making extraction challenging.

Authorities say the only ways the 12 teenage boys and their coach can escape will be by learning to scuba dive, getting dragged out by divers, or waiting months for the flooding that trapped them in the cave to subside.

Rescue teams continue to discuss exactly how they will rescue the group, with many expecting a lengthy process over several months.

A group of twelve boys aged between 11 and 16 from a local junior soccer team, Moo Pa, went missing after setting out to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave with their 25-year-old coach on 23 June 2018.

After an initial exchange in which a rescuer determines that all 13 are present, one of the boys asked what day it was, and a rescuer replied: "Monday".

"You have been here for 10 days, you are very strong". "Yesterday, unofficially, we assessed that most are in the green category", said Narongsak.

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More than 1,000 people have been involved in the rescue operation, including teams from the Thai Navy SEALs, the UK, China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia, Sweden, and the United States.

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"Today we will re-enter the second chamber that we found and try to find passages that could lead to other chambers", Wirachai said.

Despite the success of the operation, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said there were still challenges ahead in bringing them out of the flooded cave. The divers were aiming for a sandy chamber on higher ground in the cave. Other efforts include draining water from the cave and exploring the mountainside for shafts and other entrances to the caverns below.

One of the rescuer workers also said none of the boys know how to swim.

Divers were able to reach the boys after 9 days, but more heavy rainfall could see water levels rise even more, thus threatening the air pocket where the group has taken refuge. That could take months, however, given that Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October.

"The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and cooperation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery", Prayuth's office said in a statement. An official Australian group has followed a USA military team, British cave experts, Chinese lifesaving responders and several other volunteer groups from various countries.

A rescuer assured them that "navy SEALs will come tomorrow, with food and doctors and everything".