Rescuers weigh options for extracting soccer team from flooded cave

Clyde Nash
July 4, 2018

Rescue divers cleared a key hurdle Sunday in the increasingly desperate search for 12 boys and their soccer coach who went missing in a cave in northern Thailand more than a week ago, officials said. Authorities have nevertheless expressed hope that the group has found a dry place within the cave to wait, and that they are still alive.

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday morning that they used a field assessment in which red is critical condition, yellow is serious condition and green is stable condition.

Dozens of local and foreign rescuers, including a team of Navy divers and several cave experts, had spent the past few days helping to locate the team, but rising and muddy waters showing no signs of receding have stymied efforts and blocked access to chambers of the cave.

Relatives of the boys took shelter from heavy rain on Monday and were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after receiving the news.

Aged between 11 and 16, the boys went missing with their 25-year-old coach after football practice on Jun 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near Thailand's northern border with Myanmar. In the video, the dazed boys appear to be unaware of how long they had been trapped deep underground when they asked the divers what day it was.

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Twelve young footballers and their assistant coach survived being trapped for 10 days in Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai by minimizing their movements and drinking water that dripped from limestone.

"We worked so hard to find them and we will not lose them", he said.

Late Monday Chiang Rai provincial governor broke the news of their rescue, delighting a nation which has anxiously followed every twist and turn of the effort to save them.

"The distance we've got still got to go is probably two to three kilometres", Narongsak Osottanakorn, governor of Chiang Rai province, told reporters.

A soccer team stranded in a Thai cave system for more than a week was found relatively healthy on Monday, but it may take months to get everyone out. Other efforts include draining water from the cave and exploring the mountainside for shafts and other entrances to the caverns below.

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If the children are to be brought out before then, they will have to learn basic diving skills.

But, he said the group's survival depended on whether they found fresh drinking water - which, too, could pose the risk of infection. But the rainy season in Thailand lasts until around October, meaning the engineers will be battling heavy rain and high water levels for months.

Joining the British are other experts from around the world and teams from the U.S., Australia, China and elsewhere. "The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and co-operation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery".

If they are to wait until the water recedes by itself, it would mean the boys will have to stay in the cave for months and have to be continuously supplied with food and assistance. Several fissures have been found and teams have explored some, although so far, none lead to the trapped boys.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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