Missing soccer team from Thailand found alive in flooded cave

Asia News Network

Asia News Network

Chinese rescues team members talk near a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang R. Rescuers make their way down at the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, .

For ten days they have been struggling to survive, as rescue personnel from the Thai military, local officials, the US military and foreign caving and topological experts all worked tirelessly to locate and reach the trapped soccer team (ages 11-16 and their coach, age 25).

Rescuers theorized that the group took the left fork, which would eventually lead them to higher ground at Pattaya Beach.

Here's what we know about how the boys got stuck, what rescuers are up against and how the team could be removed from the flooded cave if they are found alive.

It could take days - or weeks - to get them out. Heavy rains that flooded key passages trapped the soccer players and made a hard search for them.

The 5-minute video posted on Facebook on Monday by the country's equivalent of the US Navy SEALs shows the scrawny boys - ages 11 to 16 - in red and blue soccer jerseys sitting on a rocky slope in a dark cave.

Their smaller size would be useful in getting through the narrow underwater passage to Pattaya Beach, a rescue team source said.

The video then details questions asked by the boys, including when they will be rescued.

A massive worldwide 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 kilometres into a mountain.

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Hopes were also high for finding some kind of access through fissures on the mountainside that might lead to shafts into the cave. A break in the rain eased flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world joined the rescue mission.

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There were jubilant scenes outside the cave as overjoyed relatives hugged and cheered upon hearing that the boys are alive. She said she would cook her son a Thai fried omelet, his favorite food, when he returns home.

Although they have had no shortage of water, one of the boys is heard to say: "Eat, eat, eat, tell them we are hungry".

And following the boys' discovery, Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked the worldwide experts who had helped in the search.

A glimmer of hope as rescue teams find a possible opening, but there is no guarantee it will connect to the main cave network.

Rescue divers spent much of today making preparations for what ended up being the final push in their search in the cave in northern Thailand. He said the primary decision is whether to try to evacuate the boys and their coach or to supply them in place.

Or they could be lifted out through chimneys the rescuers are now drilling - if those chimneys connect to the area where the boys are found.

But it was feared run-off water from nearby farms could carry unsafe chemicals and bacteria.

The cave is one of Thailand's longest - it stretches 10 kilometres (six miles) underground - and also one of the most notoriously hard to navigate.

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