Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Thailand cave rescue: 13 found alive after 9 days

Rescuers walk out of the entrance to a cave complex where 12 soccer team members and their coach went missing in Mae Sai Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand Saturday Thailand cave rescue: 13 found alive after 9 days
Shannon Reynolds | 03 July, 2018, 11:37

Twelve Thai schoolboys and their football coach who have been trapped by rising floodwater in a cave for nine days have been found alive by rescuers.

Now, the hard task of getting the group to safety begins.

After searching for more than a week, rescuers have found 12 boys and their soccer coach alive deep inside a partially flooded cave in northern Thailand. The rescue operation had gripped the attention of Thailand and beyond as people across the region collectively prayed for a miracle in the search that had entered its tenth day on Monday.

Mr Narongsak said the passageway the divers were making their way through goes upwards in some places and downwards in others and is extremely narrow, making it hard for divers to fit through with all their gear.

"It won't be anything like diving that most people recognize".

The boys were found in weak condition, but with only minor injuries. "But no one is in red condition".

Other than personal belongings left at the opening to the cave passage and hand prints on the walls, there had been no sign of the group.

When they were dispatched British Cave Rescue Council vice chairman Bill Whitehouse said: "They are experienced and able".

Thailand is now in the middle of a rainy season, which often causes floods in caves. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) Chinese rescues team members talk near a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Monday, July 2, 2018.

Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, the mother of 11-year-old Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, smiled and hugged her family as news of their discovery spread. Much-needed food and medical supplies - including high-calorie gels and paracetamol - reached them Tuesday as rescuers prepared for the possibility that they may be there for some time. They were operating as part of a large worldwide effort to search the Tham Luang complex for the team, who went missing back on June 23.

The divers explain that they have to leave but will be back.

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"One of the rescuers says to them, in English, 'You are very strong".

One rescuer asks: "How many of you?".

"It's Monday, you have been here 10 days, 10 days", the rescuer replies.

Anmar Mirza, the US National Cave Rescue Commission coordinator, says the primary decision is now one of whether to try to evacuate them or to supply them in place for an indeterminate time. "I haven't had anything to eat".

Narongsak said Tuesday that the missing were given high-protein liquid food, painkillers and antibiotics.

The emotional toil of any rescue attempt would also need to be considered said Paul Auerbach, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford University.

A leading American cave rescue expert said many challenges are ahead for the rescue divers.

"That was probably something they had working in their favor", he said.

Expert divers said they had made progress earlier on Monday after reaching a bend where a half-mile passageway splits into two directions. "Trying to take non-divers through a cave is one of the most risky situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy. We will work all night", he said.

Experts in cave rescues from around the world continued to gather at the site.

The rescue efforts at the Thaum Luang Nang Non cave have so far involved global assistance from the "US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom", according to Olarn and Said-Moorhouse. When they got stuck, members of the Thai Navy and Air Force were called in to locate them in the cave system. "So I'd say, yeah, it's an accurate statement that it's challenging".

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