Friday, 21 September, 2018

Missing soccer team from Thailand found alive in flooded cave

An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 soccer team An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 football team Credit Reuters
Leonard Rios | 06 July, 2018, 06:41

"But the operation isn't over".

The worldwide rescue operation - which includes more than 1000 people from Thai emergency services, Australian crews, alongside a United States military contingent and British cave experts - stepped up its efforts since the 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach disappeared during an outing in the caves in northern Thailand on June 23.

New of the boys' survival was greeted with jubilation nationwide by Thais who have followed every twist of the harrowing story.

12 boys and their football coach missing in caves for nine days have been found alive, Thai authorities have confirmed.

They disappeared when flooding trapped them after entering the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23. The system of passageway of the cave to the team is complicated and hard for divers to navigate, making extraction challenging.

The rescuers had been stymied repeatedly by rising water that forced divers to withdraw for safety reasons.

One of the boys asked the divers in English how long they had been in the cave, to which a British team member said: "You have been here 10 days".

Divers located the group in a chamber on higher ground deep inside the partially flooded cave. The rescuer tells them "Monday", and that they have been in there for 10 days.

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The ADF has also deployed an official to the rescue command centre in Chiang Rai as a specialist liaison officer to provide operations and planning expertise. They publicly remained optimistic.

"I really think we had reached the stage where people were saying "look we have to pray for a miracle, we have to hope for a miracle". "We all still have hope".

"If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave", he continued. Mirza said, "trying to take non-divers through cave is one of the most unsafe situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy".

Despite no contact from the trapped people, an worldwide major rescue effort has been under way, involving specialist dive teams from around the world, and the use of pumps to bring the water level down.

Pumping out water hasn't solved the problem, so increasing efforts have been made to find shafts on the mountainside that might serve as a back door to the blocked-off areas where the missing may be sheltering.

Teams have been combing the mountainside looking for fissure that might lead to such shafts. But when they were finally able to access it after the rain died down, they found that it had flooded.

It took them several hours to reach the group on Monday. Experts in cave rescues from around the world have gathered at the rescue site and are expected to be consulted as a rescue strategy is developed.

USA military rescuers arrived at the site last week with three British cave experts to help in the search.

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