Soccer team found alive after 9 days trapped in cave

Cheryl Sanders
July 3, 2018

Twelve boys and their assistant soccer coach have been found alive by rescuers inside a Thai cave complex nine days after they went missing, Chiang Rai province's governor said on Monday.

The global rescue operation - which includes the Thai Navy SEALs as well as experts from the US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom - had been working to reach a large, deep chamber, informally known as Pattaya Beach, where the missing boys were believed to have taken refuge.

The unnamed diver reassures the youngsters that "many people are coming" as one of them can be heard asking what day of the week it is.

"The option to bring them out by diving is the quickest but it's also the most unsafe", Anmar Mirza, national co-ordinator of the US Cave Rescue Commission, told the BBC.

Edd Sorenson, regional co-ordinator in Florida for the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery Organisation, told the BBC the diving option is "extremely unsafe and hazardous", saying he would consider it "an absolute last resort".

Friends and family members of the missing had clung to hope that their loved ones would be found alive.

"You have been here ten days", a British rescuer responds.

Emergency packages have been dropped into cave shafts containing food, beverages, a phone, a flashlight, candles, a lighter and a map of the cave, in the hope the boys will be able to find them.

"Now they've got to try and figure out how to get these 13 very weak footballers out of the caves and that is going to be an enormous task", Newton said.

"Thai Navy seals have found all 13 with signs of life", Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters who have been following the increasingly desperate search that has gripped the country.

Thai school children with their teachers pray for their missing classmates from the grounds of Mae Sai Prasitsart school, near Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai, on Monday.

Divers reach a T-junction several kilometres inside the cave but are forced back by rushing floodwaters that clog a narrow crevice near Pattaya Beach.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing when flooding trapped them after entering the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province on June 23.

Narongsak explained Monday that fixing rope lines and deploying oxygen tanks along their route allowed the divers to operate.

In addition to the divers, teams have been working to pump out water as well as divert groundwater.

Experts in cave rescues from around the world had gathered at the site.

"If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave", he continued. "I've been here since the start because I felt sympathy for them", she says.

Other reports by iNewsToday