Thai Soccer Team: What Happens Now That They\'ve Been Rescued From Cave?

Updated July 04, 2018 12:31:21

Thai soccer team found alive in cave after 9 days missing (Photo: AP) Thai soccer team found alive in cave after 9 days missing (Photo: AP)Video: Thai soccer team found alive in cave after 9 days missing (Photo: AP) (ABC News)

Related Story: Diving out of the cave is a dangerous option for the Thai soccer team. It could also be their only hope

Related Story: Thai soccer team found alive in cave nine days after they went missing

Related Story: Australians join effort to rescue Thai boys lost in cave

>Map: Thailand

Thailand is celebrating after 12 boys and their assistant soccer coach were found alive in a cave complex nine days after they went missing.

We know all of the group are "safe" with "signs of life" but now the massive international rescue effort has turned its attention to the next challenge — getting the group out of the cave.

Here's where the situation is at right now

Rescue workers clear dirt near the Thai cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach were found 9 days after going missing Rescue workers clear dirt near the Thai cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach were found 9 days after going missing Photo: Rescue workers near Tham Luang cave complex. Authorities are still deciding the safest way to get the group out. (Reuters: Soe Zeya Tun)

Thai Navy SEALs commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said that

seven members of his unit — including a doctor and a nurse — are now with the 12 boys and their coach in the area of the cave where they took shelter.

They will stay with them around the clock, monitoring their health and building their strength for the eventual effort to help them get out of the cave.

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External Link: AFP tweet: These are our highly trained specialist officers entering the Tham Luan caves yesterday.

He told a news conference that his team members "have given the boys food, starting from easily digested and high-powered food with enough minerals".

But he said

there was no rush to bring them out as they are safe where they are, adding that teams were now trying to establish a telephone line in the cave so that the boys can speak with their families.

"We hope that the telephone line will be completely installed by tonight. There's nothing to be concerned about for the moment," he said.

Earlier, Chiang Rai provincial Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said medical teams had deemed the majority of the boys had light injuries.

"We categorised their health condition as red, yellow or green, red being the most severe injuries, yellow being mild and green being light. [On Monday], unofficially, we assessed that most are in the green category," Mr Narongsak said.

We do not yet know how the boys and their coach managed to survive nine days trapped inside the cave complex, which stretches 10 kilometres into a mountain near the border with Myanmar.

The passageways that lead to the group are extremely narrow, making it difficult for divers and their gear to fit through.

'I thought he only had a 50pc chance of survival': Mother of a missing boy reacts to news he's been found 'I thought he only had a 50pc chance of survival': Mother of a missing boy reacts to news he's been foundVideo: 'I thought he only had a 50pc chance of survival': Mother of a missing boy reacts to news he's been found (ABC News)

One option is to wait for the water to subside

Cave rescue experts have said it could be safer to simply supply the boys where they are for now, rather than trying to have them dive out.

That could take months, however, given

Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October.

But more heavy rain is forecast for the coming days, which could worsen the flooding in the cave where the boys are trapped.

Thailand's Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said despite the fact that pumps are running 24 hours a day, it was clear that there are some areas of the caves that just can't be drained.

Anmar Mirza, a leading American cave rescue expert, said if the decision was made for the group to wait it out, it could be challenging to get enough supplies to them because of the narrow passageways in the cave.

A rescue worker waits by pumps and lots of water at the operation to free 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a cave system A rescue worker waits by pumps and lots of water at the operation to free 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a cave system Photo: Rescue workers in front of the Tham Luang cave complex. Officials are unsure if they'll be able to pump enough water out of the cave to allow the group out safely. (Reuters: Soe Zeya Tun)

Another option is to teach the boys basic diving skills

Depending on how bad the weather is later this week, the rescuers could be forced evacuate the group by diving if flooding in the cave complex worsens.

But Mr Mirza said that could be an even more dangerous option.

The 4km trip back out of the mountain includes a dive through the freezing, muddy water that made life difficult for even the Thai Navy SEAL divers

Mr Anupong said the boys would have the be brought out through the same narrow, complicated passageways through which their rescuers entered and if something went awry, it could be "life-threatening".

Another expert, national director of the Cave Divers Association of Australia Peter Wolf, also said teaching the team to dive might not be realistic.

"There's probably only a handful of cave divers in the world that would have been able to find them … I don't think teaching them [the boys] to dive is a viable option," he said.

Australian cave diver and engineer Ron Allum told ABC News the dive would be "quite scary".

"If they have got lights. All you will find is a brown glow in front of you. They have got no visual reference," he said.

'All you will find is a brown glow in front of you': Cave expert says the boys will have to learn to dive 'All you will find is a brown glow in front of you': Cave expert says the boys will have to learn to diveVideo: 'All you will find is a brown glow in front of you': Cave expert says the boys will have to learn to dive (ABC News)

Or they could avoid the water all together

The ABC's Southeast Asia correspondent Liam Cochrane said thousands of soldiers are scouring the mountain looking for ventilation shafts that could provide a back door to the cave.

"I believe that the Navy SEAL divers from Thailand are going to keep exploring around the area where the boys were found to see if there are other areas they could perhaps shelter in if the ground waters did rise again or perhaps some alternative ways to get out," he said.

Despite the scale of the operation, Mr Wolf was optimistic they could survive.

"I think they've got a pretty good chance," he said.

"The biggest adversity they may face is rising water level inside the cave, and provided that doesn't become an issue I think they can stay alive and hopefully be brought out safely once the water recedes."

But for now, the group will just have to wait until rescuers decide to make their next move.

"The provincial Governor has cautioned the media, therefore the rest of the public watching this, that it could be a slow process," Cochrane said.

Divers in the Tham Luang cave complex during a search for missing members of an under-16 soccer team Divers in the Tham Luang cave complex during a search for missing members of an under-16 soccer team Photo: Foreign divers have been a huge part of the multinational rescue effort. (Reuters: Soe Zeya Tun)

ABC/wires

Topics: disasters-and-accidents, floods, missing-person, thailand

First posted July 03, 2018 11:35:04

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