Home / NEWS / Divers prepare to rescue last five Thais trapped in cave as officials appeal to rain god for help

Divers prepare to rescue last five Thais trapped in cave as officials appeal to rain god for help

• Eight boys rescued so far
• Five remain trapped in cave
Elon Musk brings his mini-sub to Thailand
• Meet the seven British divers playing leading roles
• Parents told no hugging until quarantine over

Eight boys have now been rescued from the flooded cave labyrinth on Thailand’s far north but generals and other officials say success of the rest of the operation lies in the hands of the rain god Phra Pirun.

They must battle time and rain as they embark on a third day of operations to bring the last four players and their coach to the surface.

“Two days, eight Boars,” read a Facebook post by the Thai Navy Seals of the dramatic rescue that began on Sunday, more than two weeks after the members of the Wild Boars soccer team were trapped. 

The eight rescued boys are recuperating in hospital from their ordeal huddled together on a tiny patch of higher ground where they had sought refuge after a rainstorm flooded the massive Tham Luan Nang Non cave complex.

Their families were being kept at a distance because of fears of infection and the emaciated-looking boys were eating a rice-based porridge because they were still too weak to take regular food, authorities said.

Officials lavished praise on the Thai and international divers who, in pairs of two, executed the dangerous rescue mission, guiding the boys, who could barely swim and had no diving experience, through a treacherous 2.5-mile escape route that twisted and turned through the cavern. 

But the chances of monsoon rains sending torrents of water into the cave and making the rescue effort too risky is never far from the minds of everyone involved in the operation.

Alluding to that worry, the regional army commander offered his thanks Monday to the rain god Phra Pirun, imploring him to “keep showing us mercy”.

“Give us three more days and the Boars will come out to see the world, every one of them,” Maj-Gen. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance.

The plight of the boys, aged 11-16, and their coach, has riveted Thailand and much of the world – from the heart-sinking news they were trapped to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys brought back by the pair of British divers who found them after penetrating deep into the sprawling cave. 

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Boys are ‘in good mental health’

More from the briefing: The first group have now seen their parents through a glass window, and the other four should be able to see their parents today in the same way. They do not have fever and appear to be in good mental health after their ordeal.

The boys’ families were also buoyed by a visit from the Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Thai prime minister, who visited the hospital yesterday, and were seen chatting and laughing with them.

The children had their eyes shielded by protective sunglasses as they emerged from the cave. Their eyesight is currently being tested, but the first group has been able to take the glasses off.

If the last group of five survivors is freed today they will be treated separately from the others, but will receive the same tests, first being evaluated for hypothermia, and then being subjected to a round of blood tests, X-rays and heart checks.  

Soft food – and not too spicy – for now

The boys have been desperate to eat normal food after surviving inside the cave on energy gels and medical food, said Dr Chokedmanrongsuk. The first group will be able to eat soft boiled rice today, he told reporters at Chiang Rai hospital.

“Today they can eat normal food but not too spicy,” he added.

He said the boys will be kept in isolation for the next week, to protect them from infection and while they undergo a thorough medical evaluation.

“We have never experienced a situation like this before,” he said.

Parents have seen boys – but only through glass

Health officials remain cautious as they test boys for illness – including what has been called “cave disease”, caused by the fungus Histoplasmosis, found in the droppings of birds and bats. 

Health briefing under way 

Dr Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, a senior health official, says the first 4 boys rescued are aged 14 to 16 and two  of them possibly have a lung infection.

The second group was aged 12 to 14.

All eight boys are still in quarantine. They are being tested for hypothermia, with blood tests, lung X-rays, heart rate. First group of boys was aged 14-16. Second group 12-14. 

Steady rain

Ambulances and military vehicles at cave entrance

Three ambulances along with cars, hummers and soldiers have been seen entering the cave site where rescuers have been carrying out a high-stakes operation to bring out trapped members of a youth soccer team.

Heavy rains lashed the northern Thai region late on Monday and a steady downpour has continued Tuesday.

After divers brought out four of the boys Monday evening, authorities indicated the rescue operation would continue for a third day. But they also warned heavy rain could hamper their efforts.

Can the divers rescue all five today?

The question today is whether the rescuers can bring out all five people trapped inside the cave in one go. Until now, officials have said they want to do it four at a time. 

Speaking on Monday night Narongsak Osottanakorn, who heads the mission, said:  “For safety, the best number is four.”

That has led to speculation that they could opt to bring out what we believe to be the four remaining boys leaving their 25-year-old coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, to spend one more night perched on a ledge above the water.

‘Divers resume rescue’

Reporters at the scene say a number of foreign divers have been spotted going back into the cave network. From the entrance it’s about a five-hour slog to reach the location where the boys and their coach are perched on a ledge.

Then they have to come all the way back. So it may not be until late in the day that we know more. Here’s a reminder of how they are doing it all…

There’s a lot of respect around for the divers

Thai Seals prepare for day three of the evacuation

Thai Navy Seals in good spirits at their guest house close to the cave complex

Credit:
Nicola Smith

With a traditional shout of “Hooyah!” Thai Navy Seals set off from their guesthouse in the northern Thai town of Mae Sai on Tuesday morning for a third rescue mission to bring out the remaining five survivors trapped in the Tham Luang caves.

“We’re strong!” said the 15-strong group after a rousing pep talk from their commander about the dangerous mission ahead. The men were in good spirits as they posed for photos and crossed their forearms in the Seals’ trademark symbol.

Gathering their hard hats and backpacks they headed out for the short drive to the caves where their role is to back up the first diving team which is expected to enter about 10:30am.

Prolonged rainfall overnight has increased anxiety about Tuesday’s mission, despite a successful and speedy extraction of eight boys since operations began on Sunday.

Tuesday morning has begun with overcast skies after rain began shortly after midnight, and divers will not know if water levels have risen inside the cave until the enter.

Two Thai military doctors have stayed in the chamber about 2.5 miles inside the cave network, where the remaining survivors are sheltering.

Elon Musk delivers mini-sub

Elon Musk says he has arrived in Thailand with his mini-sub. He says he made it all the way inside to cave 3, where emergency workers have set up their rescue hub, and has left his underwater craft in case it is any use.

It may well be too big to make it through the 40cm or so gap we are told the rescuers and boys have to wriggle through. 

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/10/divers-prepare-rescue-last-five-thais-trapped-cave-officials/

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