Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Missing 13 found safe in Thai cave but rescue 'not over'

Missing 13 found safe in Thai cave but rescue 'not over'

In this handout photo released by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center, Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Monday, July 2, 2018.

The Thai military on Tuesday said they would provide the team with four months' worth of food and give them diving lessons while continuing to drain the Tham Luang cave complex, in Thailand's Chiang Rai province, which has been flooded by heavy monsoon rains.

On June 23, the boys and their coach went to explore a cave in northern Thailand after soccer practice.

"Trying to take non-divers through a cave is one of the most risky situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy", he said.

"If the children are to be brought out before then, they will have to learn basic diving skills to safely get through the unsafe corridors of muddy, zero-visibility waters as attempts to pump the water levels lower have so far not been successful", an Army official told BBC.

"Not today", the rescuers are heard saying. Many people are coming. "We are the first", the rescuers reply.

"Monday. Monday. You have been here 10 days". "You're very strong", they said. Heavy rains that flooded cave passages are thought to have trapped them.

"I can't express how I feel".

The British Cave Rescue Council said in a statement: "Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain hard and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider". "And [Tuesday] morning we're going for an extraction plan".

The divers have been stymied again and again by muddy water rising to the ceiling of the chamber, forcing them to withdraw for safety reasons.

"But even when they recover their strength, pulling them back through miles of partly flooded tunnels will be a daunting challenge".

But the boys had retreated 300-400 metres further as the ledge was submerged, Governor Narongsak added.

A Thai navy SEAL team will now decide how the boys and their coach will be brought to safety.

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Explorers have spent days scouring the mountain top for possible alternative openings. Rain was forecasted to intensify from Wednesday, potentially complicating the rescue effort which could take weeks or even months to complete.

Any new rainfall that could cause more flooding, he noted.

"Supplying them on site may face challenges depending on how hard the dives are", Mirza, coordinator of the U.S. National Cave Rescue Commission, said in an email.

According to Anmar Mirza, national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission in the US and editor of the book Manual of US Cave Rescue Technique, the main decision is now whether to try to evacuate the boys or to supply them in place.

It is reported that 16 Navy SEAL divers have been sent to the location, called Nern Nom Sao slope, to stay with the boys to keep tabs on their health and prepare them for evacuation.

Namhom Boonpium is the mother of 13-year-old Mongkon. "He lived to play football since he was small", she told Al Jazeera last week.

"I'm so relieved, though I still don't have the chance to see him. Because whenever he would leave home, he'd always ask for permission".

"One of them told me that they can barely see their hand in front of their face".

If they dive, they have no choice but to follow the steps that rescuers took though tiny passageways clogged with mud and silt.

Officials in Thailand said that all those missing were found alive.

Thousands of people have also used social media to celebrate with a hashtag that simply says: "13 Survived".

It's been revealed that two British divers, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, were the first to reach the trapped team.

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