A day trip into a cave on Saturday, June 23 turned into a nightmare both for the cave explorers – a youth soccer team named the Wild Boars – and their families. Nine days later the boys have been found, along with their coach. The ordeal isn’t over, though.
A park ranger at Tham Luang Nang Non cave found bicycles and belongings shortly after the park had closed on Saturday, and a search began. A monsoon had struck earlier that day, and there were concerns that the children and the coach may have been caught by a tunnel collapse or flood, and either killed or trapped. As the days progressed, the likelihood of their being found safe diminished.
On Monday, however, every member of the group was found alive. Initial medical assessments reported them as being in comparatively good health, for people who had gone nine days without food.
They had initially wandered past the signs warning against travelers entering too deeply into the tunnel complex during monsoon season. By the time they realized their error, water had filled the passageways, blocking their return. (CNN)
Experienced divers from the Thai Royal Navy SEAL team explored submerged tunnels through which the boys might have passed. Through good fortune and persistence, they located all thirteen members of the missing team on a ledge together inside the cave. (Borneo Post) Now, however, a new problem emerges: none of the trapped boys know how to swim.
The cave system is underneath a mountain. Drilling down to them would be structurally risky and abnormally difficult. The remaining options are to pump out the water or teach the children to swim. The initial decision seems to be to attempt both simultaneously.
In the interim, the children are being provided high-nutrient food gels, water filtration devices are being provided to clean some of the available water, their atmosphere is being improved by bringing scuba tanks full of oxygen into the cave, experienced divers training in medicine are evaluating the health issues, lights have been provided, and the Thai government is trying to get cables run into the cave to allow the children to talk with their parents. (News.com.au)
There are fears that months may pass before the last of the children is freed from their cave. For the moment, though, families are relieved that their children will likely yet be saved.