Monsoon Threatens Thailand Cave Rescue Operation

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After a few of the young soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand were rescued on Sunday morning, monsoon rains continued to hinder the rescue efforts, according to the New York Post.

During a brief break in the weather, rescuers were able to pump some of the excess water out of the Tham Luang cave in the Chiang Rai province and rescue at least four boys, who had been trapped in there for over two weeks.

However, the rain shortly recommenced, putting a halt to the rescue operation. The province is expected to experience flooding on Monday and Tuesday, further delaying the rescue effort. Now, it could take up to four days to rescue the rest of the team and their coach, weather permitting.

Rescuers have already predicted that it will take another 10 to 12 hours to free the eight remaining boys and their coach from the cave.

Rescue-operation head and governor of Chiang Rai, Narongsak Osottanakorn, commented on the progress his team had made so far.

“Today was the best day, the best situation in terms of the weather, the health of the boys, our water management for our rescue effort,” the governor said.

The incoming monsoon will only cause water levels to rise, further jeopardizing the lives of those who remain trapped inside of the Tham Luang cave complex. The continuing downpour also prevents rescuers from pumping more oxygen into the cave. The team is huddled in an enclosed area of the cave, in which oxygen levels are falling, and the incoming rain could end up shrinking the unflooded space to around 100 square feet.

While the four boys who were rescued were found to be in good health, nine other people remain trapped inside, and the rain, which could last days, could not just delay, but set back the rescue operation.

“We have two obstacles: water and time,” Governor Osottanakorn noted, adding, “This is what we have been racing against since day one.”

For now, the rescue operation is scheduled to resume on Monday, although it remains uncertain whether or not that will be possible.

“The monsoonal pattern is present, meaning rain arriving in waves, which can’t be adequately timed as they can escalate quickly,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said Sunday evening. He also pointed out that “runoff from rainfall around the cave area will likely be higher, raising the risk of rain entering the cave, raising water levels and increasing the flood threat.”