Saturday, 18 January, 2020

Rescued from Flooded Cave in Thailand

Thai rescue team members walk inside the cave Thai rescue team members walk inside the cave
Deanna Wagner | 09 July, 2018, 11:36

On Sunday four members of the "Wild Boar" team were successfully brought out from the cave, after authorities decided they had to rush ahead with a rescue operation to beat monsoon rains.

Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the caves, much of which they can wade through. While that's gone well, there's still a high chance of more rain in the area, and the mission plans could be affected over the course of the next several hours - and that will determine whether or not the escape pod will find use in this endeavor. Contrary to initial reports it's now believed the weakest boys were selected to come out first, following an assessment by Adelaide cave diver and anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris.

Authorities were preparing Monday to resume the urgent, risky operation of extracting a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand a day after four boys were rescued and as rain threatened to raise water levels inside the cave again.

An official reportedly told a Thai TV station on Monday morning that they didn't want to name the boys because "they're afraid it will affect the parents of kids who still remain inside".

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach after soccer practice on June 23 as they set out to explore the cave complex in a forest park near the border with Myanmar.

The rescue mission began on Sunday morning, almost a week since the 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their coach had been discovered on an embankment 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) inside the winding tunnels.

Efforts underway to extract the boys have involved a swelling team of thousands of divers, engineers, military personnel and volunteers from all over the world - including Elon Musk's SpaceX.

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They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and disheveled group huddling on a muddy bank. Drilling a hole into the mountainside to lift them to safety - as 33 Chileans were rescued from a collapsed mine in 2010 - was dismissed because the boys' location couldn't be pinpointed accurately, and it wasn't clear how drilling could alter the mountain's geology.

The rescue operation comes after a former member of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit died during a dive on Thursday night - a grim turn in what began two weeks ago as an outing to celebrate the birthday of one of the boys.

Narongsak told reporters earlier Sunday that the boys would be brought out one by one and that it could take at least 11 hours for the first person to be rescued.

"There is no other day that we are more ready than today", he said. "We hope they are coming out today".

Thirteen foreign and five Thai divers are taking part in the rescue operation.

The device is fitted with oxygen ports and is light enough to be carried by two divers. It remains unclear how numerous boys have actually left the cave. Another option would be to drill a hole into the cave and airlift the boys out.

Meanwhile rescuers fed a kilometres-long air pipe into the cave to restore oxygen levels in the chamber where the team was sheltering with medics and divers. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he wrote. He has also thanked global experts who helped find the boys. Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said two divers will accompany each boy as they are led out of the cave. "My dear Ek, I would never blame you".