Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

On Monday, British divers who were part of an global rescue team found all 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach alive but hungry in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system.

They disappeared when they went exploring after a soccer game June 23 and were found by rescue divers late Monday.

Efforts to pump out floodwaters are continuing, but some Thai officials have indicated that heavy rains forecast for this weekend could force them to decide the boys should swim and dive out using the same complicated route through which their rescuers entered.

Ideally, the water level would be lowered to no higher than the boys' waists, so they could walk out wearing life vests without needing to don scuba gear for what would be an extremely risky trip.

The tricky point in the cave is a narrow passage called Sam Yak.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Wednesday there are only two options right now, the Bangkok Post reports: finding new shafts that could lead out of the cave or having the boys scuba dive out through the flooded cave passageways.

Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and unsafe waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained.

The group has been underground for 12 days after becoming trapped in the cave during a flash flood.

Mario Sepulveda, one of the Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months in 2010, sent a message of encouragement to the boys and their coach.

Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, the Thai official overseeing the rescue operation, said Wednesday that "all 13 may not come out at the same time".

However, rescue operations commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn admitted Thursday the rescue teams do not have time on their side and they are concerned about weather conditions.

The remaining danger, Lanet expalined, is that monsoon season is just starting and, once in full swing, water levels inside the cave network will rise and could fill the chamber where the boys have taken shelter.

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It's also possible that conditions inside the cave could change.

In the most recent video, a navy SEAL is shown treating minor cuts on the feet and legs of the boys with antibiotic ointment. If cave floods again, it would much more hard to reach them.

I The 12 boys and their soccer coach are reportedly still in spirits, consuming high protein foods and being taken care of by seven members of the Navy Seals team.

In the video, as a light is shone on each boy's face they address the camera with head bowed and hands clasped together in a Thai prayer-like greeting known as "wai".

A family member looks at a photo near Tham Luang cave complex, as members of under-16 soccer team and their coach have been found alive.

One wears what appears to be the red jersey of the England football team in Tuesday's World Cup second-round victory over Colombia.

While there is urgency to rescue the boys, deputy government spokesman Weerachon Sukondhapatipak has cautioned against being pressured to act faster.

"Now we are teaching the children to swim and dive", he said, adding that if water levels fell and the flow weakened, they would be taken out quickly.

The boys would be taken out of the cave when they are mentally ready and physically fit for the potentially punishing journey of more than 4km to the mouth of the cave, the authorities said.

Kian Kamluang, the mother of 16-year-old Pornchai, said hearing the news the boys were found was "like he has been given a new life", she told AP news agency.

She said she'll never let her son go into a cave or near water again.

Now that they've been located, are they safe?

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