Successful Search For Lost Soccer Players
The disappearance of the 12 boys and their coach on July 23 inside a cave caught the attention of the whole international community. But with the huge collaboration between Thai authorities and foreign rescue experts, the lost boys were finally found after nine days trapped inside the cave. The good news is, all of them are alive.
With a huge rescue operation involving the Thai Navy and Air Force, the young athletes were found deep within the cave system. However, it will not be an easy way out for them. The location where they were found is around four kilometers (2.4 miles) inside the cave, and nearly a kilometer below the surface. Scuba diving seems the best option, but the boys don’t know how to swim. Even worse, some places are so narrow that scuba gear may not be able to pass through.
British Cave Rescue Council Vice Chairman Bill Whitehouse said, “Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider.”
Asserting that it is difficult for them to bring the young boys to the surface, authorities decided to supply the group with four months’ worth of food and begin teaching the boys how to scuba dive.
Tham Luang, Thailand’s longest cave and a popular tourist site, is said to be a labyrinth, miles of passageways and tunnels running underground. The cave can flood up to 5 meters during the country’s rainy season, which runs from June to October.
The Bold and Brave Efforts of Rescue Teams
It was a tedious rescue operation and it lasted nine days to finally locate the young soccer players. The operation involved reducing water levels inside the cave by using water pumps and drilling through rock to drain water.
It was hard to try to reach the deepest caverns of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave especially amid the relentless rain and flooded entrance of the cave. But through the use of drones equipped with thermal cameras, rescuers were able to detect possible access points and an underwater robot sent back information on the water depth and condition of the cave. These gave them an easier navigation route to locate the teens.
In addition, sniffer dogs were also used after smelling clothing belonging to the missing children.
The Lost Boys and The Coach
After a soccer practice, the 12 soccer players of Wild Boars, accompanied by their young coach went inside the Tham Luang cave complex. It was not their first time wandering around the tourist site. Clear skies may have encouraged them to navigate the cave, but the weather turned bad as rain continued to pour and flooded the cave. Many speculated that the boys were trapped inside the cave and it was too late for them to get out.
When local responders and families went to the cave to search for the young boys, they found backpacks, shoes and bicycles scattered at the entrance of the cave.
The players’ ages range between 11 and 16 and they came from various schools in the province.