Published: Thu, July 05, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

Thai Navy Seals raced to train 12 young boys and their football coach how to scuba dive on Wednesday ahead of monsoon rains that could force an emergency evacuation. It also raised hope among family members, some of whom have stayed at the chaotic, muddy site where rescue operations are being coordinated since the boys went missing.

The navy has released videos of the boys, showing them smiling and interacting with the personnel sent into the cave to bring supplies, treat their injuries and keep them company.

On Monday, British divers who were part of an worldwide rescue team found all 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach alive but hungry in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system.

The most risky option, he said, "is trying to teach them enough diving skills to dive them out".

Friends and classmates of the trapped boys in Tham Luang cave sing for them.

The one-minute video shows the team together with the SEALs inside the darkened cave.

In a heartening message to families waiting in anguish outside, the Thai Navy SEAL footage features 11 of the 12-strong team, each makes a traditional Thai greeting gesture to the camera before introducing themselves by nickname and saying "I'm in good health".

Kian Kamluang, whose 16-year-old son Pornchai is inside, said she had thought it was a 50 percent chance that her son would be found.

"It's like he has been given a new life", she said.

The boys are unable to swim and do not have experience in diving but Governor Narongsak said underwater dive training for the boys was well underway.

"They may have some belief that their technique is effective for ground water drainage, but anything that is not in the plan must be discussed with us first", said Mr Narongsak, the former Chiang Rai governor.

He said it is unknown when an extraction could be attempted, but it is unlikely to be Wednesday.

He said he wishes those concerned "proceed in great care, assuredness and wisdom, guided by an unwavering faith so that this rescue effort may fully achieve the ultimate success as all of you have wished".

Authorities said they were still exploring other options, such as scouring the mountainside for other ways into the cave and finding faster ways to pump water from the cave.

The teammates, who were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, were found by rescue divers late on Monday night during a desperate search that drew assistance from experts around the globe, including Australia, and British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen who were the first rescuers to reach the group. "I think it's important as a country for us to be there, after what we miners went through", he told AFP.

"It doesn't sound a lot for those of us who can swim, but bearing in mind that most of these boys, if not all of them, can't swim, that would be very scary and when they can't breathe that's a time when people are likely to panic - and I think that's one of the biggest risks with that type of rescue if that's the path they choose to take", Barker said. This way the boys wouldn't need to learn to swim or dive, and would be able to have their head above water as they exit, nearly allowing them to walk out. That could take months, however, given that Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October.

This morning, Claus Rasmussen, who is part of the rescue team, said the boys have told divers they heard dogs barking, a rooster crowing and children playing - raising suspicions that there may be a hidden passage to safety from deep within the cave.

"There's air pockets along the way", he said.

The cave was most likely dry when the soccer team entered on June 23, but rushing waters later clogged the way back with mud and debris, rendering numerous exit routes hard to pass through and with zero visibility. There's currents to battle against in places as well. "So it's a really quite a strenuous environment to be in", he said.

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