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

WATCH: Our Place Therapeutic Recovery Community turns into a ‘place of healing’

500 volunteers, 120 businesses worked to transform View Royal community

A party for 11 pups and their adoptive families in Beckwith Park in Saanich

The coonhound siblings reunited at a barbeque on Saturday

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Sidney youth bowl over the competition, head for nationals

Youngsters take Mens and Womens Singles Championships at recent tournament

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read