Rescuers Should Learn From British Cave Team

Rescuers explore fissures on the mountain hoping to find shafts that lead down into Tham Luang cave

Rescuers explore fissures on the mountain hoping to find shafts that lead down into Tham Luang cave

The rescue of 12 members of a boys' soccer team and their coach in northern Thailand could take months, the Thai navy said Tuesday, as officials weigh the best extraction options after a dramatic nine-day rescue mission.

He said that having the rescued people dive out of the cave was one of several options being considered.

The elite British divers are said to be among over 1000 people assisting in the rescue mission, which is far from over as rescuers face formidable challenges in getting the group out.

A pair of expert cave divers from Britain found the group about 300-400 meters (yards) past a section of the cave on higher ground that was thought to be where they might have taken shelter.

Pattaya Beach, the section of the cave where the boys are sheltering on a mud bank, is 5km into the 10km cave network and the conditions of the dive are treacherous, with nearly no visibility and rushing waters.

The "Wild Boar" team became trapped on June 23 after heavy rains blocked the cave's main entrance.

One of the toughest stretches for the divers came as they neared so-called Pattaya Beach - an elevated mound in the cave complex - where it was hoped the boys had sought refuge.

"We found them safe".

The boys are believed to have entered the Tham Luang cave after soccer practice with their assistant coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, on what was meant to be a half-day trek.

When volunteer British divers managed the remarkable late Monday night, finding 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach stranded on a ledge more than a mile into a complex cave system, they were greeted with a chorus of thank yous - and one very hard question.

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The boys and their 25-year-old coach were found on a mud bank 6ft above the water level, 4.8km into the 9.6km network of caves.

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda later stressed the urgency of the evacuation, adding that rain was forecast "in the next few days", the Bangkok Post reported. The search for the boys gripped the nation and the world, and ended Monday evening when two British divers found the team hiding on a dry patch in one of the flooded chambers. Brilliant." The rescue team member then tells them, "You have been here 10 days.

"If something goes wrong 10 kilometres down an underwater tunnel, you usually have until your air runs out to find a solution or make your peace".

"Cave diving is incredibly unsafe for people who are very experienced doing it". After four days the Thai Navy SEALs were joined by a group of thirty personnel of the United States Pacific Command and British cave diving rescue experts Richard Stanton MBE, John Volanthen, and Robert Harper.

The starving group was given high-protein liquid food and a vacuum-packed meal of rice and pork was being prepared for them.

However, the Tham Luang Nang Non cave has proved hard for even the rescue divers to navigate.

The British divers are part of a British Cave Rescue Council team that has been battling extremely unsafe conditions to reach the trapped soccer team.

He said other efforts will continue, such as draining water from the cave and exploring the mountainside for shafts and other entrances to the caverns below.

According to Anmar Mirza, national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission in the U.S. and editor of the book Manual of U.S. Cave Rescue Technique, the main decision is now whether to try to evacuate the boys or to supply them in place. Experts from around the world, including the United Kingdom, U.S., China and Australia have also traveled to Thailand to join the rescue effort.

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