4 rescued from Thai cave | Front Page

11 July, 2018, 04:47 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Credit PA

The operation to rescue the boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach by having them dive out of the flooded cave began Sunday morning, with expert divers entering the sprawling complex for the complicated and risky mission.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn had said earlier Monday that the second phase began at 11 a.m. and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours".

It's unclear how long the complex and risky rescue effort will take, but it could be days.

They were found a week later by a pair of British volunteer divers who were part of a rescue mission that has drawn divers and experts from around the world - including USA military personnel from Japan, bird's nest collectors who hunted for shafts in the rock face and members of Elon Musk's SpaceX venture.

Their disappearance triggered a massive global search and rescue operation involving officials, soldiers and volunteers from the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan and China, among others. "Divers are expected to re-enter the caves in between ten and twenty hours" time because there were not enough air tanks along the route to continue, an official said.

Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the risky mission to bring out the 12 boys and their football coach earlier on Sunday.

But monsoon flooding cut their escape and prevented searchers from finding them for 10 days. The fellow classmates and teachers from the same school have described to the press the preparations they have made for the boys.

Thai Navy SEALS and dozens of volunteer rescue workers have worked around the clock funnelling food and oxygen into the cave and trying to train the soccer team and their coach to dive with heavy scuba gear on their backs.

Four boys of 13 trapped in a northern Thailand cave have been brought out through an underwater evacuation, a member of the rescue team said on condition of anonymity Sunday.

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The only way to bring everyone out of the cave is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water, strong currents and oxygen-depleted air. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out and died making the dive Friday.

The mission was only launched on Sunday morning because floodwaters inside the cave were at their lowest level in days. The rescue operation has come to a close for the night and will resume in 10-20 hours.

Narongsak said rescuers had to tighten a guide rope as part of their preparations for Monday's operation. So far, two boys have confirmed lung infections.

"Today is D-Day", Narongsak had earlier told reporters.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach belong to a local team called Moo Pa (Wild Boars) Academy.

"Clearly there is a huge risk of someone panicking if they are not used to the diving environment", Tony Haigh, a spokesman for the British Cave Rescue Council, which had two divers that found the boys, told the Post.

Cave rescue experts have said they consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

There was scattered rain in the area of the cave on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

An hour before the rescue mission began, officials ordered the media and "non-essential personnel" out of the immediate area.

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