Thailand Cave Rescue Underway

By M. Russo — Published July 08, 2018

Thailand Cave Rescue Underway

The operation to save 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach from a flood cave in Thailand is officially underway. The boys, ages 11 through 16, and their 25-year old coach have been trapped in the cave for more than two weeks at this point. The extraction via diving was considered a last resort, however as more rains are expected and no other viable options have been found, rescuers began the dive at 10:00 AM local time.

The boys and their coach went missing on June 23, and it was nine days before they were located. They became stranded in the cave due to seasonal monsoon flooding. While they did not have access to food, they luckily had a source of fresh water. Once they were located, navy SEALs delivered food, water, electrolyte drinks, medicine, and oxygen canisters. They also brought letters from families and allowed the boys and coach to write letters in return.

source: gettyimages

As there has been concern about the boys making the difficult dive when some are not strong swimmers to begin with and malnutrition and inability to move has led to further weakness, officials had explored the possibility of drilling down into the cave.  Additionally, they scoured the mountainside to find another way in, as the boys had reported hearing chickens at one point. While water was being pumped out of the cave and streams diverted, it has not been enough to allow the trapped boys and coach to walk out. With oxygen levels dangerously low in the cave and the threat of more rain, today needs to be the day to get the thirteen out. To prepare, SEALs have been coaching the boys on how to wear scuba gear and dive. A few of the boys also needed to have swimming lessons.

There are at least four flooded areas that the boys and coach will have to pass through. The passage is quite twisted and steep. One area in particular is only 25 inches wide, requiring divers to carry their scuba tanks in front of them in order to pass through. To underscore how dangerous this dive is, one former SEAL died on Friday while doing it.

source: gettyimages

Thirteen foreign and five Thai divers will take part in the rescue. The boys will be extracted one at a time, with two divers accompanying each boy. It will take at least 11 hours (9:00 PM local time) before the first person emerges from the cave. From there, they will head to the hospital. The road leading to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital will be cleared as of 3 PM on Sunday for ambulances to pass through unimpeded. Officials believe it could take two to four days for all thirteen people to be removed from the cave.

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