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Thailand cave rescue: What now for the boys?

CHIANG RAI: The rescuers dubbed it “mission impossible” but they defied the odds to locate the 12 boys and their football coach deep in a cave complex. However the hard part may yet be ahead: getting them out safely.


Tuesday 3 July 2018, 03:34PM

Rescue workers at the entrance of the Tham Luang cave. Photo: AFP

Rescue workers at the entrance of the Tham Luang cave. Photo: AFP

Here are a few ways the hungry and weak boys could get out, none of them easy options.

Could they dive out?

In theory yes: but it is an extremely difficult task. Cave diving is already very risky, especially for young boys in a weakened state who have no diving experience.

Tham Luang cave where the boys have been trapped is one of Thailand’s longest at 10 kilometres and one of the hardest to navigate with its winding and at times narrow corridors.

If they dive, they have no choice but to follow the steps that rescuers took though tiny passageways clogged with mud and silt.

That journey takes a healthy – and skilled – Navy SEAL diver about six hours.

Officials said they would attempt to train the boys to use crucial diving gear after they are rehabilitated with food, water and medical support.

“Cave diving is a very technical skill and it’s extremely dangerous, especially for an untrained diver,” Anmar Mirza, coordinator of the US National Cave Rescue Commission, said.

“So they may end up being better off trying to supply them in the cave until they can be gotten out by other means.”

Could they be dug out?

Explorers have spent days scouring the mountain top for possible alternative openings. They have found a few “promising” leads and have tried to drill deeper.

But there is no indication that any of those chimneys connect to the chamber where the boys have been stranded.

Again, the boys need to spend time getting stronger in the depths of the cave before they can attempt to climb up a second entry – if one is found – or be lifted out.

What about walking out?

This would be the safest option, but at the moment it is impossible because parts of the route remain flooded.

So in theory they could wait, but that means hoping that flood waters subside.


Water pumps are working around the clock to drain the floods though it has been an uphill battle for much of the week as heavy rains refused to let up.

If the current break in bad weather sticks, this option could be more promising.

But weather forecasters warn downpours may soon return as monsoon season sets in.

“If the rain fills up the cave system then that might take months before the water drops again,” Belgian diver Ben Reymenants, owner of Blue Label Diving in Rawai, Phuket who is assisting the search, said.

How long could it take?

Hard to say for sure. It depends how long it takes for them to regain strength.

Experts say they could remain inside for weeks – or even months – as rescuers work out the safest option for their extraction.

The military said today (July 3) that it was preparing enough food for four months but did not speculate they could be in there that long.

Are the boys even in the right mindset to move?

They clearly want to leave. In footage that emerged after the boys were found by two British divers late yesterday (Jult 2) one asks to “go outside”.

One of the diver replies “I know, I understand... no, not today.”

Even if they are physically fit enough to dive, they will need the mental prowess to stay calm in the murky waters and claustrophobic passageways that stand between them and freedom.

Fortunately, they seem in pretty good shape, considering.

“They’re mentally stable which is actually pretty good,” Reymenants said.

“Luckily the coach had the sanity of mind to keep them all together, huddled together to conserve their energy, that basically saved them.”



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Rorri_2 | 07 July 2018 - 05:44:08

"Yeah", well my "friend, nominee shareholders, who participate in the running of the business, are LEGAL, as for distance we have also covered that, the discussion was about road distance, you gave the distance in a straight line... not what was being discussed, again you are WRONG, WRONG WRONG. Now pull your irritating head in.

Jor12 | 06 July 2018 - 16:55:22

Yeah...bit like saying nominee shareholders are not illegal, or being unable to plot the distance between two points on the globe...just to mention 2.

Christy Sweet | 06 July 2018 - 09:19:52

Please Sleeping Woman Mountain, birth these  boys. It is all rather vaginal. One  recent V/Tweet of tight tank pushing is as basic as it gets. 

Christy Sweet | 06 July 2018 - 08:29:50

The warning sign I saw stated July as the cutoff date. They entered June 23. I hope the Guv is NOT the one making any decisions about this. He'll  be looking for a hasty ending before he's transferred so as to bask.

Rorri_2 | 06 July 2018 - 05:51:39

"It should have read "1 week after the boys went in."" of course it should have, most of us can read, but in your case, he who is so quick to criticize, YOU got it WRONG.
My "wording" was very specific ie, if this is correct.... I already new you  were WRONG, I was having a "dig" at you for being WRONG.

Jor12 | 05 July 2018 - 19:03:43

It should have read "1 week after the  boys went in." If one reads the reports, that would have been self evident, so he is not right at all.

KurtTi | 05 July 2018 - 15:23:16

Mr.Kurt is right.The thai excuse person only like to criticize his comments,without to add something usefull..

Rorri_2 | 05 July 2018 - 06:08:57

"the cave was to be closed one week before the boys went in," if this is correct then Kurt is correct, there should have been more of an attempt to close the cave, more, better, (eg, Warning, DANGER of flooding) signage, and at least a barricade, but hey, we all know you prefer to criticize than to add anything helpful. 

Jor12 | 04 July 2018 - 15:43:06

Perhaps next you want parks closed because tree branches will fall down, rivers closed off, no pedestrian crossings? If you read the reports, the cave was to be closed one week before the boys went in

Kurt | 03 July 2018 - 20:16:28

The Governor has the time of his life. Mics and cams on him. Tv moments of fame.
But the day will come he has to answer why that cave complex was not guarded or locked. Only a prohibited sign, something a good thai ignores.
Costs of saving operation, thousands of farming acres crop destroyed by cave water pumped out.
Later Governor has many bills to sign and to pay.

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