After the exciting news that the Thai soccer team had been found alive and in relatively good condition after being trapped in a cave for more than a week, efforts now turn to how they will be rescued.
Ten days ago, 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing on June 23 after they entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system and became trapped by rising floodwater and continuous rainfall. The search and rescue mission has gripped Thailand — and the world — ever since.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the boys and their coach have been found and Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn released this statement.
“I can confirm that they are all safe. Our mission is not done yet. We will drain all water out from the cave then we will take all 13 people out of the cave. We are now planning how to send nurse and doctor inside the cave to check their health and movement. We will work all night.”
Today, video footage was released by Al Jazeera that shows the group at the moment two British divers reached them inside the cave system. The boys immediately asked when they could leave and whether there was any food for them. The divers explained that they didn’t have anything with them but that they were many more people coming. The divers also confirmed with the group that there were 13 survivors.
However, while the group has been reached, it still may take a long time to extract the group from the flooded cave system. As the video from Al Jazeera explains, water is constantly being pumped from the caves in an effort to keep water levels down. However, more rain is expected to follow in coming days.
There is growing skepticism over whether enough water will be able to be pumped out of the cave in order for the Thai Soccer team to be able to freely walk out. This will be especially difficult with current and ongoing weather conditions.
The Guardian has reported that there is speculation the Thai Soccer group may have to be taught how to dive in order to free them from the cave they are currently trapped in. However, the feasibility of doing this is being debated.
In addition to the logistics of teaching 12 young boys how to dive, the group has been without food for 10 days and are in a weakened state. It would be an arduous first dive for them. And, it would be a dive that could take in excess of six hours to complete, according to The Guardian.
A recent tweet from Thai News of MCOT, however, is asking for a donation of “15 small-sized full face masks,” and this has added extra speculation to the fact the team might be considering guiding the boys through the water while wearing full diving gear.
Bill Whitehouse, vice-chair of the British Cave Rescue Council, has suggested the group could be guided through the water in “packages.”
“The other alternative is that you literally bring them out in packages. In other words, you fit them with diving equipment: a full face mask, instead of having a gag in your mouth like a lot of divers use; package them up; put the correct weights on them so that they are neutrally buoyant and are not going to get stuck again. It has been done before.”
Regardless, it won’t be an easy trip as the initial divers found it hard to get to them in the first place. Having to swim against the current, the divers also had to traverse 1.5 kilometers (just under 1 mile), part of which was flooded. Many parts of the trail were also narrow in dimension.
Another alternative is to send in supplies to the group so that they can wait it out until it is safer to attempt a rescue mission. With monsoon season settling in, this option could take months. According to The Guardian, the military is “preparing enough food for four months.” However, they did state that while they are stocking this amount of food, it doesn’t mean the group will end up being stranded for that length of time and that the stocked amount was merely a precaution.
Finally, rescuers have also been attempting to find a way to dig into the location where the Thai Soccer team is trapped. Several potential locations have been found. However, once again, the group would have to be physically fit to attempt to climb out via this option.
So, in the meantime, efforts have been concentrated on getting much-needed food and medical supplies to the trapped group while a decision is being made on the best way to free them.