Thai soccer team found alive inside cave after 9 days

Minnie Murray
July 6, 2018

The boys, who range in ages from 11 to 16 years old and are all members of the Wild Boar soccer team, entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system on Saturday, June 23, for a team outing, but became stranded in the dark tunnels by a sudden and continuous downpour.

Rescue teams from the United Kingdom had joined Thai soldiers in hunting for the boys in the Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park.

Chiang Rai's Governor Osatanakorn said the divers had concentrated on securing a rope line and placing oxygen tanks along the narrow passageway that they think will lead them to the boys.

"I confirm they are all safe", Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on Monday night.

"When the medics have evaluated the kids to see if their health is in good condition, we will care for them until they have enough strength to move by themselves, and then we will evaluate the situation on bringing them out again later", Mr Narongsak said.

The Thai navy is already doing this short-term, sending teams with high-protein liquid food to feed the boys, keep them company and explore the cave infrastructure where they are to ensure it is safe.

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".

Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, a mother of one of the missing, 11-year-old Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, smiled and hugged her family.

But experts say that as the boys can not swim, the safest solution would be to wait for the water to drain from the cave.

Emergency packages have been dropped into cave shafts containing food, beverages, a phone, a flashlight, candles, a lighter and a map of the cave, in the hope the boys will be able to find them. The rescuer tells them "Monday", and that they have been in there for 10 days. Other options included teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave.

Divers searching for the team had been hampered repeatedly by rising rainwater that filled sections of the cave and forced them to withdraw for safety reasons.

Anmar Mirza, the US National Cave Rescue Commission co-ordinator, said the primary decision is one of whether to try to evacuate them or to supply them in place.

Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked global experts and rescuers who helped the search. Narongsak said they were focusing Monday on six shafts, up from two the day before.

"Thank you so much", one of the boys says.

The group's plight has gripped the country and led to an outpouring of support.

Experts in cave rescues from around the world continued to gather at the site. An official Australian group has followed a USA military team, British cave experts, Chinese lifesaving responders and several other volunteer groups from various countries.

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