Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Thai boys soccer team may have to dive to escape cave, floods

Thai boys soccer team may have to dive to escape cave, floods

In this handout photo released by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center, Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Monday, July 2, 2018. A government official says the group has been found alive.

His office said the PM "wishes to thank the tremendous efforts of all global units that have come to assist the Thai authorities in rescuing the youth football team that was stuck in the caves in Chiang Rai". The system of passageway of the cave to the team is complicated and hard for divers to navigate, making extraction challenging.

Narongsak said they located the missing boys about 300-400m past a section of the cave that was on higher ground and was thought to be where the team members and their coach may have taken shelter.

Anmar Mirza, a leading American cave rescue expert, said many challenges remain for the rescuers.

A massive global rescue effort has been under way since, with rescue teams battling through thick mud and high water to try to reach the group in the cave network that stretches 10 km (6 miles) into a mountain.

Aged between 11 and 16, the boys went missing with the 25-year-old coach after soccer practice on June 23 after they set out to explore the cave complex in a forest park near Thailand's northern border with Myanmar.

When the group, whose voices are indistinct, ask what day it is, the divers pause, then one replies, "Monday, Monday".

The soccer team and their coach were discovered after nearly 10 days trapped inside the cave.

How did they find them?

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More food supplies have already been sent to the cave since rescue teams are not certain how long a safe exit could take.

"I confirm they are all safe", Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn told reporters on Monday night.

Doctors say the boys could survive for days without food, but much would depend on whether they found water clean enough to drink. They were located near a chamber known as Pattaya Beach, which has a higher elevation.

The heavy seasonal rains hampered the search operation, with divers groping their way along the cave walls, barely able to see in the muddy water, but the pumps had helped to bring down water levels in recent days.

Doctors adept at diving have since arrived on the scene, aiming to "stabilize" the boys before the final steps of the rescue can take place, journalist Tim Newton told CNN. Thailand's rainy season lasts until October, and the cave is regularly flooded.

Cochrane said thousands of soldiers have been scouring the mountain looking for ventilation shafts that could provide a back door to the cave. Many, many people. We're the first.

Joining the British are other cave experts from around the world and teams from the US, Australia, China and elsewhere.

"Everyone is coming together to figure out the next course of action and how to bring them out as safely and as quickly as possible", Tait said.

The group's health was assessed overnight by medical teams which will continue to check the health of the group on Monday, said Narongsak, explaining that the boys had sustained light injuries.

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