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'No easy way out for Thai boys trapped in cave' - rescue mission could take four months

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12 boys and their football coach have been trapped in a cave network in Thailand for 10 days. Rescuers reached the group yesterday, but celebration turned to concern after authorities assessed all possible exit routes

Anna Freeman

03 Julio 2018 12:40

A team of 12 young boys who play for Thai soccer team and their coach have been trapped in a network of caves for ten days, with dramatic relief efforts ongoing for days as experts attempted to reach the area that had become flooded by monsoon waters.

Yesterday, in a miraculous effort, a team of divers reached the group who are all still alive and relatively unharmed. However, celebration has given way to concern now as rescuers must attempt to free the 12 boys and their coach from deep inside the flooded caves.

A video shared by the Thai Navy SEALs showed the boys communicating with British divers who had reached them on Monday, sat together on a tiny patch of dry ground in a dark, claustrophobic chamber, surrounded by muddy water.

‘It is estimated that the boys are around two kilometers (1.2 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters to one kilometer (0.6 miles) below the surface,’ said Bill Whitehouse, vice chairman, British Cave Rescue Council, whose organisation helped with the rescue at Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in northern Thailand.

Options for the rescuers seem limited at best, and extremely difficult at worst. The area where the group is stranded is only accessible via a narrow, flooded channel, and attempts to pump water from the cave, or find a natural opening in the roof of the chamber, have been unsuccessful so far.

Captain Akanand Surawan, a commander with the Royal Thai Navy, said authorities would now supply the group with four months' worth of food in case the rescue takes that long and begin teaching the boys how to scuba dive.

The four-month waiting period might suggest that authorities are considering waiting until after the rainy season ends in October to begin the rescue operation, instead supplying them with essentials to keep them alive.

Heavy rain is expected to continue in the next few days and rising water levels could force rescuers to act sooner rather than later, making difficult decisions in the process.

‘We believe that there is only a short break in the monsoon and all feasible options for the rescue of the boys are being considered,’ Whitehouse said in a statement.

‘Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider.’

Diving is the most dangerous escape methods, with experts warning that traversing the narrow passageways will have potentially fatal complications, especially if the children can't swim or have never dived.

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