Australian Federal Police and Defense Force personnel talk each other near a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Thursday, July 5, 2018. With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing against time to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Rescuers race to drain water inside Thai cave before rains

Rescuers must extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk from cave

With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said Thursday.

A firefighter who has been working on draining the water said parts of a passage leading to the chamber where the group was found Monday was still flooded to its ceiling, making diving the only way out.

“What we worry most is the weather,” Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn told reporters. “We can’t risk having the flood back into the cave.”

The boys, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province after a soccer game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for 10 days. The boys, although skinny, have been described as in good health. Authorities have said the soccer players are being looked after by Thai navy SEALs, including medics, staying with them inside the cave.

RELATED: Thai boys and coach found alive in cave where they went missing

Narongsak said he asked the SEALs in charge of extraction plans to estimate what sort of a risk would be involved to take them out and “what kind of readiness we can have today and decide if we can take that chance.” He said the 13 may not be extracted at the same time, depending on their condition. They’ve practiced wearing diving masks and breathing, in preparation for the possibility they may have to dive.

“This morning, I have asked for 13 sets of (diving) equipment to be prepared and checked the equipment lists and place them inside (the cave) in case we have to bring them out in this condition with less than 100 per cent readiness,” he said.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain expected by Saturday almost surely will raise water levels again in the cave, making passage in some areas even more difficult, if not impossible.

They are hoping that an upgraded draining effort can lower the water in an area where it is still at or near the ceiling. The idea is to get some headroom so the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.

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.

One Thai navy SEAL team member who spent time with the boys said the young soccer players “were always asking about the World Cup.” ”I told them that all the big teams had gone home,” the navy SEAL member said.

Seeing the boys has boosted the mood of their family members, and officials are working to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their children.

Kian Kamluang, whose 16-year-old son, Pornchai, is in the cave, said she had thought there was a 50 per cent chance that her son would be found.

“It’s like he has been given a new life,” she said, adding that she’ll never let her son go into a cave or near water again.

RELATED: Warm in blankets, Thai boys smile, joke with rescuer in cave

Cave rescue experts have said it could be safest to simply supply the boys where they are, and wait for the flooding to subside. That could take months, however, given that Thailand’s rainy season typically lasts through October.

Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and dangerous waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained.

“We are talking kilometres of transport under the water with zero visibility,” said Claus Rasmusen, a certified cave diving instructor based in Thailand who has been helping Thai SEAL team with logistics. “It’s difficult.”

He said it was awkward, but possible, to teach them minimal skills.

“Nobody will teach anyone a full cave course, but trying to get them comfortable with masks, with the breathing, (is) completely different,” he said. “Creating an environment that can make them safely get away, that’s feasible.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Video: Shuswap Search and Rescue help injured mountain biker

North Vancouver woman falls on trail in North Shuswap

Police request public’s help after cat shot in North Shuswap

Chase RCMP seeking information, small calibre bullets lodged in shoulder of pet

Hornets take home gold at Interior Spring League Playoffs tournament

The tournament consisted of seven teams from Kamloops to West Kelowna

Letter: Residents urged to vote for kitchen for Outdoor School

Voting goes until June 23 to receive $100,000 for South Canoe

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mainly sunny

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of showers tomorrow across the Okanagan

VIDEO: Sexting teens at risk of depression and substance abuse, Canadian study says

Use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana were also found to be associated with sexting

Arrested suspect connected to string of Okanagan robberies

Man arrested after failed robbery at Enderby store may be involved in four other such crimes

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

UPDATE: Grass fire sparks in West Kelowna

The blaze is just off Lower Glenrosa Road

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Survive an Apocalypse in Kelowna with this virtual game

Apocolypse Made Easy is an interactive online survival game

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Most Read