Thailand cave: Boys trapped in cave unable to swim, complicating rescue efforts

Soldiers work outside Tham Luang while divers moved further inside the cave in Mae Sai district Chiang Rai on Sunday

Rescuers are now considering how best to bring the group to safety. "If it keeps raining or starts to rain and water levels rise then there's a bit more immediacy required".

He said if the team were unable to get the trapped footballers out of the cave within two days, they should prepare for more rains and rising floodwaters in the cave.

He says that bringing the team out the way that the divers reached them would be the "most dangerous" option.

"Worst-case scenario is they have to dive them out", Pat Moret, a rescue consultant, told CNN. The group would have spent at least another night on its own in the pitch black, not knowing if a rescue would ever come.

Rescue experts have suggested the safest option would be to supply the children and their coach with food and medical supplies and wait for the water level to subside, which could take weeks or even months, but the expected heavy rainfall could complicate the equation. "For people who have never done it, it will be hard, unlike diving in a swimming pool, because the cave's features have small channels", Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said. The boys are being entertained, and a phone line is being installed to permit them to speak with their families, the BBC reported.

The navy Seal team on site had earlier sent out a request for donations of small full-face diving masks after it was found that the masks they had were too big for the children, fuelling speculation that a rescue attempt was imminent.

'We've got a job to do, ' was all Mr Volanthen would say to reporters when he first entered the cave.

The governor said that requests had been made to build "infrastructure" in the cave leading to the pocket where the teenagers and their coach are located.

Divers could also bring in food and other supplies to sustain the group until the water recedes enough for them to leave, or the team could be taught diving skills themselves to make the risky passage to safety.




A video released by the navy on Facebook shows the boys covered in thermal blankets and chatting in high spirits.

In the five-minute navy video, the boys are quiet as they sit on their haunches, legs bent in front of them.

More than 1,000 people have been involved in the rescue operation, including teams from the Thai Navy SEALs, the UK, China, Myanmar, Laos, Australia, Sweden, and the United States. One flooded area they said was about 5,000 feet long and half of it had no airspace to emerge to if something went wrong underwater.

The search for the group had gripped the nation as it was unclear where they were or whether they even were still alive.

Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked the global experts who assisted in the search. "Thank you so much", he said to a British member of the crew. They entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system on Saturday, June 23 but became stranded in the dark tunnels by a sudden and continuous downpour.

They were found on a rock shelf about 4km from the mouth of the cave. The boys were found roughly 2.5 miles from the cave entrance. "But they're alive", Longman said. Several fissures have been found and teams have explored some, though so far none have led to the trapped boys. Surawan's reference to four months has been interpreted as a potential sign that authorities are considering waiting until the rainy season ends in October.

Experts have cautioned that taking inexperienced divers through the unsafe corridors of muddy, zero-visibility waters would be very risky.

"Any boys who are ready can come out first", via "chamber three" a cavern being used to as a base to store food, oxygen tanks and diving gear as well as plan the complex logistics of how to move 13 weak and inexperienced divers out of a partially-submerged cave.

Other teams are still scouring the mountainside in the hope of finding another way into the cave.

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