“…experts are saying it could take weeks or even months.”
Rescuers are bracing for a long and difficult evacuation for the 13 Thai kids found alive in the Tham Luang cave after they went missing on June 23. All this chatter outside the cave whilst food and medicine was being shuttled to the young football players through muddy waters today.
The 12 young boys and their football coach were discovered thin and hungry, but with good spirits, on a mound of mud surrounded by water last night around 10pm. The discovery ended an agonising search that captivated the nation and was making headlines around the world.
But the focus quickly shifted from find the team to the tricky task of how to evacuate them safely from the still-flooded caverns. Much-needed food and medical supplies – including high-calorie gels and paracetamol – reached them early today as rescuers prepared for a prolonged extraction operation.
The Thai military says it is providing months’ worth of food and providing diving lessons to the boys as part of the process to help them out of the waterlogged Tham Luang network in the country’s monsoon-drenched north.
“We are preparing to send additional food that can sustain the team for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water,” Navy Captain Anand Surawan said.
He refused to say how long they might be trapped, but experts are saying it could take weeks or even months.
The astonishing rescue sparked jubilation across the country after officials, local rescue personnel and international experts mounted a massive and gruelling operation, beset by heavy downpours and fast-moving floodwaters.
“We called this ‘mission impossible’ because it rained every day… but with our determination and equipment we fought nature,” Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said this morning.
The boys were discovered at about 10:00 pm Monday by British divers some 400 metres (1,300 feet) from where they were believed to be stranded, sseveral kilometres inside the cave.
In the video, posted on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page, one of the boys asks the rescuers to “go outside”. In response the British diver says: “No, no not today… many, many people are coming… we are the first,” in reference to the vast and complex rescue operation that has taken over the mountainside.
The harrowing task of getting the boys out is complicated by the fact that they are in a weak state and are not experienced divers. In fact none of them have any diving experience at all.
The rugged and wet kilometres-long course toward the entrance take a healthy SEAL diver six hours. If diving proves impossible, there is an outside chance they could be drilled out or wait for waters to recede and walk out on foot. But the clock is ticking with heavy rains forecast to return this week as the monsoon season bites deeper.
The priority is to get the team’s strength up before they start the tricky journey out, officials said, reluctant to offer a concrete timeline.
“I’m so relieved, though I still don’t have the chance to see him… I want to tell him I’m still here waiting,” Kieng Khamleu, said of her son Pornchai Khamleung inside the cave. Another parent said he could hardly believe the good news.
“It’s unimaginable. I’ve been waiting for 10 days, I never imagined this day would come,” the father of one of the boys said.
Diving teams have been laying telephone lines in the cave today to set up phone calls to the boys, the governor said.
SOURCE: The Nation