Trapped! Thai youth football team braces for longer stay in cave, military says evacuation could take months

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New Delhi | Published: July 3, 2018 2:21:34 PM

The agonising search for the 13 members of the team came to an end on Monday when they were discovered at about 10:00 pm by British divers some 400 metres from where they were believed to be stranded several kilometres inside the cave.

Thai football team, Thai football team trapped, Tham Luang, Tham Luang cave, thailand, SEAL diver, Thai Navy, world The news about the 13 members of a Thai youth football team being discovered after being missing for 9 days on July 2 spread like wildfire. (Photo: Reuters)

The Thai football team along with their coach who were found alive trapped in a cave for nine days on Monday will now have to prepare themselves for a longer stay. The news about the 13 members of a Thai youth football team being discovered after being missing for 9 days on July 2 spread like wildfire. While the rescue process to save the team is underway, the Thai military said that the whole evacuation process can take months.

The trapped members were provided with food and medicine through muddy waters today. These much-needed supplies provided to the team includes high-calorie gels and paracetamol as they were discovered thin and hungry on a mound of mud surrounded by water.

The agonising search for the 13 members of the team came to an end on Monday when they were discovered at about 10:00 pm by British divers some 400 metres from where they were believed to be stranded several kilometres inside the cave. In a video that has been posted by the Thai Navy SEAL on their Facebook page, the boys can be seen interacting with the divers. One of the boys even expressed his will to “go outside” as soon as he saw the rescue party.

The Thai military, according to a report by AFP, said that they are providing months’ worth of food and diving lessons to the boys to help them out of the waterlogged Tham Luang network in the country’s monsoon-drenched north. They have now shifted their focus to the tricky task of how to evacuate them safely from the still-flooded caverns.

Anand Surawan, the Navy captain said, “(We will) prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water.” While the navy captain refused to say how long they might be trapped, experts suggested that the whole process could take weeks or even months.

Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said, “We called this ‘mission impossible’ because it rained every day… but with our determination and equipment we fought nature.” The report stated that the task is complex due to the physical appearance of the boys who seem week due to the last nine days. The navy will have to teach them how to dive as none of them is an experienced diver to get out of the flooded cave.

The report further said that it could easily take six hours for a healthy SEAL diver to cover the rugged and wet kilometres-long course toward the entrance. It adds that in case diving seems impossible for the members, their only chance of getting out of the cave can be if they cave is drilled or they will have to wait till the water recedes. However, the situation is getting worse by the minute as heavy rains have been forecast this week for that area.

The rescue team was able to locate the members after they found their bicycles, football boots and backpack near the cave’s opening. They even spotted handprints and footprints further in — leading them to the spot they were eventually found.

The Tham Luang cave where the football team members are stuck is one of Thailand’s longest. It covers over 10 kilometres and is also one of the toughest to navigate — especially in the wet months.

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