Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Thai cave rescue: Good conditions for extracting trapped boys, soccer coach

Linh Pham  Getty Images British cave-divers John Volanthen walks out from Tham Luang Nang Non Linh Pham Getty Images British cave-divers John Volanthen walks out from Tham Luang Nang Non
Faye Gross | 08 July, 2018, 07:13

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

Gong Hui, a Chinese diver involved in the operation that has drawn some 130 Thai and global divers, told Reuters on Saturday before the fresh rains that water levels in the cave had "receded a lot" after sustained pumping had removed millions of litres of water.

The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says it is "not suitable" to make the boys dive to safety yet.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain is expected by Saturday.

Narongsak Osottanakorn, a former provincial governor leading the effort said the "ideal time" for a rescue could come in the next two or three days.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said authorities were waiting for two big groups of volunteer foreign divers to arrive this weekend, after which they will be ready to act quickly to bring the team members out when the conditions are right.

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", he said.

"We have to make a clear decision on what we can do", he told the French news agency.

Schoolboy footballers trapped in a cave in Thailand for 13 days have been invited by Federation Internationale de Football Association to attend the World Cup final - providing they get out in time.

Four navy SEALs are stationed with the boys to monitor their health, provide them with food and check on oxygen levels.

"Don't worry, we are all strong", one child said in a note. If we can get out, please can you take me to eat at a pan-fried pork restaurant? Don't worry, I'm safe.

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One boy, called Nick, wrote: "Mum, Dad, Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings".

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work", Navy Seal commander Apakorn Yookongkaew said, adding that rescuers have "a limited time" to extract the boys.

"Night loves Dad and Mom and brother, don't worry about me".

The sixth letter from the boys stuck in a cave in Thailand included messages from Peerapat "Night" Sompiangjai, 16; Nattawut "Tle" Takamsai, 14; and Prajak "Note" Sutham, 14. "Don't worry, we are safe now", "When I come out, we will go eat fried chicken", "I miss everybody", and "Don't forget to arrange a birthday party for me".

Many are lauding him after reports he gave his share of food to the kids before they were located and helped them get through nine days in the darkness.

In his letter, the 25-year old apologized and vowed to take care of the boys.

"To all the parents, all the kids are still fine". "The seals take really good care of me".

"Thank you all for the support", the coach wrote.

It took ten days to find them in the underground network's dark depths.

One recovery strategy the rescuers have been pursuing includes fitting the group with full-face oxygen masks and accompanying them on a long, unsafe swim through the narrow, pitch-black tunnels. They've earmarked 18 as having "potential", though while some run as deep as 400 meters, non are thought to lead directly to the boys' cavern.

But the difficulty of getting them out was emphasised on Friday when Saman Kunan, a 38-year-old former Thai Navy Seal died after laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route. The rescue team also includes divers and workers from Australia, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe and Asia.

In a possible new bid for a solution, engineers working for the entrepreneur Elon Musk will be sent to Thailand. "The Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar and is pretty good at digging holes", Musk said on Twitter.

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