On Monday rescue divers finally found 12 boys and their soccer coach alive after they had gone missing more than a week in northern Thailand. Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn confirmed that all of the 13 missing individuals had been found alive. The soccer team with boys ages 11 to 16 and their 25-year-old coach had disappeared when flooding trapped them after entering the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23.
Narongsak said rescuers found the team about 10:30 p.m. local time, but they are still trying to figure out how to get the group out of the cave. Thai navy SEAL divers and rescue workers had trouble passing through a key chamber where murky waters had previously blocked their progress. Rescuers had drilled a hole into the side of the cave to try to drain the water, while other rescue workers attempted to find alternative routes into the cave.
Interior Minister Anupong Panojinda said “There’s not much we can do right now. We have to wait for the water level to decline. Divers can’t do anything right now.” Police Col. Kam Saardluan said the cave system is at least four miles long and water can reach 16 feet during the rainy season, from June through October.
Families have gathered outside the cave to pray and everyone is waiting with anticipation at their exit from the cave but it won’t be that simple. Pat Moret, a rescue consultant says the kids and their coach may need to dive to get out of the cave.
“Worst case scenario is that they have to dive them out. So they’re being fully immersed in water, wearing what we know is a full face mask or maybe even some sort of commercial dive helmet to make it a little less stressful for them. But it will be a truly terrifying experience,” Moret said.
The team will likely need a lot of medical treatment before they can be moved.”They’ll need fluids replacing possibly feeding. They’re going to need reheating. They’ve possibly been lying still for days now. And sensory faculties won’t be what they should be. So I would think that they’re not really fit to move for maybe 12 hours or so really.”
The 12 boys, members of the Wild Boars soccer team, and their 25-year-old coach had explored the cave before.