Thai Cave Rescue: How Elon Musk's 'Kid-Size' Submarine Could Assist Mission
11 July, 2018, 01:08 | Author: Diane Mills
The boy is part of a group who went into the Tham Luang cave more than two weeks ago.
The second phase of the operation to extricate nine members of a Thai youth football team from a flooded cave began today and was expected to yield "good news" within hours, the chief of the rescue mission told reporters.
An ambulance leaves the cave in northern Thailand hours after the operation began to rescue the trapped soccer players and their coach.
Officials last week said they would bring the fittest people in the group out first, but Narongsak later said that whoever was ready first would be escorted out.
The Thai Navy Seals leading the operation say eight boys have now been extracted from the cave and will now work to extract the four boys and their coach who remain trapped inside the cave system. Authorities have said extracting the entire team from the cave could take up to four days, but two straight days of success raised hopes that it could be done faster.
Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and risky plan for the boys aged between 11 and 16 and their coach to dive out of the cave.
After reaching the area where the boys were trapped, the divers used a rope, which was connected to the outside of the cave, to guide them through the exit way.
The boys who were pulled from the cave late Sunday are recovering from their ordeal in a newly converted isolation ward at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital.
The Wild Boars and their coach became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
Officials said on Sunday that it may "take days" to rescue all 12 boys and their coach.
The names of the rescued boys have not been released out of respect for the families whose sons were still inside, and they have not been reunited with their own families, he added.
Five boys have been rescued till now, and divers are continuing with the rescue operations.
The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight.
In an indication of how unsafe the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday.
The boys, who have not been identified, were kept away from visitors due to concerns about possible infection.
Thirteen worldwide divers and five Thai Navy SEALs are involved in the operation. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route., necessary for divers to safely travel the five to six hour route to where the boys are.
Authorities have repeatedly warned that the rain could re-flood crucial parts of the cave complex that have been drained and make the escape route march harder or even impossible to navigate. The boys and their coach have been stranded about four kilometers inside the cave. Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, Narongsak said.
The boys are wearing special diving masks that cover their whole face as this helps them breathe more easily from their oxygen tanks.
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They entered the cave during fine weather but became trapped when a sudden downpour flooded the narrow tunnels. The amount of oxygen in the cave is diminishing, forcing rescuers to establish a line to pump in fresh air.
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