Twelve boys and their soccer coach have been found alive after going missing for nine days while trapped in a flooded cave. They were feared dead, but naval special forces have been able to make contact the missing and confirm the health of everyone. The challenge will now be to extract the 13 survivors from their ordeal.
Thai Navy SEALS established an underground operation rescue center in their continuing attempts to save the boys and their coach in northern Thailand. Even with 600 oxygen tanks and communications and electrical systems, the SEALS struggled with dirty water and difficult conditions.
According to a Thai military official speaking to CNN, an estimated 1.6 million liters of water emerge from the cave network every hour. But the flooded channels are also subject to strong riptides that will make any rescue effort a challenge.
The boys, aged 11 to 16, were visiting the cave with their coach, 25, after practice on June 23. Tham Luang Cave is a popular tourist destination, and the boys were touring just before the traditional start of the flooding season in July. An early flood caught them off guard. The struggle of the Wild Boars team has riveted the southeast Asian country and the world.
“They are all safe but the mission is not completed. Our mission is to search, rescue and return. So far we just found them. Next mission is to bring them out from the cave and send them homes,” said Narongsak Osottanakorn, governor of the northern Thai Chiang Rai province, speaking to reporters from outside the cave’s command center.
Previously published by: Popular Mechanics USA