Thai cave boys to get four months of food and diving lessons

Ross Houston
July 3, 2018

All 13 people who have been trapped in a cave network in Thailand for nine days have been found alive. The challenge now will be to extract the boys safely.

The boys survival was greeted with jubilation nationwide by Thais who have followed every twist of the harrowing story.

A video shot by rescuers in flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above an expanse of water.

Anmar Mirza, a leading American cave rescue expert, told the Associated Press that many risks remain for the rescuers and the group. A British diver on the SEAL team told the group, "You have been here 10 days. You're very strong", they said.

One of the toughest stretches for the divers came as they neared so-called Pattaya Beach - an elevated mound in the cave complex - where it was hoped the boys had sought refuge.

Family members hear the news that the missing team has been found alive in the cave where they were lost more than a week ago in northern Thailand. CBC's Briar Stewart reports.

The boys were found in weak condition, but with only minor injuries. "[Divers] can't do anything right now", Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said on Thursday, the AP reported.

According to Cochrane, there has been a break in the rain for a few days, but more bad weather is forecast for Wednesday.

Attempts to pump the water levels lower have so far not been successful.

They appear to have survived by sheltering above the water level when the caves were flooded by early monsoon rains.

"The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and cooperation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery", Prayuth's office said in a statement.

But dramatic footage shared on the official Facebook page of the Thai Navy SEALS showed the skinny boys in oversized, mud-slicked football jerseys crowded together on a small mud cliff surrounded by water as rescuers finally found them.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing on 23 June.

He stated that the rescue team found the Pattaya Beach to be flooded.

However, after more than a week of no news and fading hopes, two British divers, part of an worldwide team of rescuers involved in the effort, reached the so-called Pattaya Beach deep-water cave, where the boys and their mentor were holing up, on Monday. Many of them had been putting fruit and sweet treats near the cave each day as an offering to spirits they believe protect the cave. Rescuers shook hands and congratulated each other as occasional cheers broke out.

Thai police stand in front of the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, C.

The priority is to get the team's strength up before they start the tricky journey out, officials said, reluctant to offer a concrete timeline.

Rescuers have to decide how best to get the group out, and were warning it could take time.

It remains unclear whether any of the group are injured or in need of medical attention, but they have been given energy gels to sustain them while a plan is worked out to bring them to safety. Other options included teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave. In the nearly 5-minute clip, the boys are illuminated by torchlight while a diver can be heard speaking to them. Basically, they're looking at either instructing the trapped boys on how to dive, or waiting up to four months for the water to recede.

A rescuer makes his way down at the entrance of the cave complex.

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