September 24, 2018

Meet the Thai Soccer Players Trapped in a Cave

06 July 2018, 12:36 | Darnell Patrick

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Agonising rescue ahead for Thai cave boys as nation rejoices

Former U.S Navy SEAL Cade Courtley has cautioned there will be fatalities if the boys are forced to dive out.

Family members, waiting outside the caves, felt enormous relief when all members of the youth soccer team were found alive.

The British Cave Rescue Council, which has members taking part in the operation, said in a statement that "although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain hard and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider".

The desperate search has drawn assistance from experts around the globe, including six dive specialists from the Australian Federal Police.

Rafael, 53, who is originally from Israel but has lived in Thailand for more than 30 years, said he had been inside the cave 25 years ago and found that it was more hard to navigate than other caves he had tackled. One footballer asked, "Can we go out today?"

One mother said she had not been able to contact her boy.

The children and their coach are being supplied with food and medical care by Thai Navy Seals. "However, it's still not known how they'll actually be able to recover them".

Thai Navy Seal Chief Admiral Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew has vowed to reunite the 12 boys with their families and said the operation would only begin when the youngsters are mentally ready and physically fit.

"[Not] all 13 may not come out at the same time", said Chiang Rai provincial governor Narongsak Osatanakorn.

Authorities are evaluating their readiness each day and if there is any risk, will not proceed, he said.

The world celebrated a miracle this week when rescue workers found the members of a Thai youth soccer team that had been trapped in a flooded cave for 11 days.

Some areas in the cave complex are so narrow the boys, who can not swim and do not have diving experience, would have to swim through the muddy waters unaccompanied.

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Rescuers who reached a group of children trapped in a flooded Thai cave say finding them was the easy part; getting the youngsters out safely will be the real challenge.

Floodwater is continuing to be drained from the complex system in Chiang Rai but with heavy rain expected on the weekend pressure is mounting on whether to risk having the boys swim and dive through the complicated and narrow set of passageways. They could be brought to larger dryer spaces be warmed, refed, looked after and comforted.

Seal commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said there was no rush to bring the group out of the cave, since they are safe where they are.

Authorities are also pumping out water round-the-clock aware of the bad weather forecast in the days ahead, removing around one centimetre each hour in a massive draining operation.

The boys are around four km (two and a half miles) from the cave's entrance, according to the Thai navy, and about 400 meters from Pattaya Beach, a large, elevated point inside the Tham Luang cave complex.

As soon as Titan does make it home, Tanawut says, "I will tell him you are home and you are safe". The boys, many wrapped in foil warming blankets, take turns introducing themselves, folding their hands together in a traditional greeting and saying their names and that they are healthy.

Friends sing a song outside of the cave complex Wednesday.

Thai SEALs have been checking on the 12 boys (aged 11-16) and their 25-year-old coach, which has included treating minor cuts and providing them with high-protein drinks.

The group are still trapped because the way back was flooded.

Despite spending nearly two weeks underground, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said Thursday the boys were in good spirits.

The images have delighted a Thai nation that has held its breath for a successful outcome to a challenging rescue kilometres inside one of the country's longest caves.

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