Thai King praises cave rescue efforts

Ross Houston
July 5, 2018

Officials are considering giving all 13 of them a crash course in cave diving so that they can swim through flooded passages.

Thai rescue personnel pump water from Tham Luang cave.

There is no simple way to save the trapped team. The SEALs are pumping out water from wells near the cave, in an attempt to drain the water inside.

"Our job is to keep pumping out water and it is up to the team inside to assess the safety level and whether the kids can travel safely through", he said.

"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", the British Cave Rescue Council, which is taking part in the rescue operation, said in a statement. At one point Tuesday, officials suggested that the rescue could take months.

The 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach are situated on an elevated embankment about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the cave's main entrance. They disappeared when they went exploring after a soccer game June 23 and were found by rescue divers late Monday. Engineers there eventually drilled a vertical hole to reach their chamber, and all the miners were pulled to the surface one by one. "It floats and can be easily maneuvered by two experienced divers".

In the most recent video, a navy SEAL is shown treating minor cuts on the feet and legs of the boys with antibiotic ointment.

"How many of you?" the diver can be heard as saying.

A Thai official said rescue teams were still busy trying to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their trapped children. But there are concerns that something could go awry on the way out, or the boys could panic underwater in the narrow tunnels and passageways.

They're drilling through rocks to make room for hoses, which have already helped remove more than 31 million gallons of water. The rescuers had to fight a current as they pulled themselves through narrow, flooded passages by gripping the walls.

"We are talking kilometres of transport under the water with zero visibility", said Claus Rasmusen, a certified cave diving instructor based in Thailand who has been helping Thai SEAL team with logistics. Thai authorities called on them to help. "Extracting the children take a lot of people", Prawit Wongsuwan, Thailand's deputy prime minister, told reporters. The camera pans to the other boys, who flash smiles.

Kathleen Graham tells her story: "You stay focused on what you can control". "This is diving in a cave", he said.

A limestone cave complex is like a giant sponge, said Amy Frappier, a professor of geosciences at Skidmore College who has done extensive research in caves.

Heavy rains that has been forecast have so far held off, but as Thailand heads into its monsoon season, a deluge is expected in the coming days, which has the potential to wind back the progress made recently, and re-fill the cave with water.

In both of the videos the boys appeared in good spirits.

The divers are making the complicated dive back and forth to the small, cramped shelf where the boys have sheltered within the flooded cave complex.

Experts say the Wild Boars come into their situation with some advantages, including their youth, their group identity and, yes, their coach's experience with meditation.

Experts say Ekapol's meditation - a mainstay of the Buddhist faith - likely served the group well.

The boys and the coach are no longer alone.

Among them are Thai Navy SEAL divers, three British cave divers and a team of American pararescue and survival specialists from the U.S. Pacific Command. The boys are being entertained, and a phone line is being installed to permit them to speak with their families, the BBC reported.

Soldiers and rescue workers carry supplies and food to the caves.

Mr Osatanakorn asked Thai navy SEALs in charge of extraction plans to estimate what sort of a risk would be involved to take them out and "what kind of readiness we can have today and decide if we can take that chance".

Before heading into a cave, she said, Canadians should ensure at least one member of their group is familiar with the underground layout. "It will seem very bright when they come out into the sunshine".

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