Tham Luang caves, Thailand Divers and rescue workers in Thailand have begun what could be the final push to free four boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a cave in the country’s remote north, according to a Thai Navy official with knowledge of the operational details.
Eight of the boys were taken out of the cave during the first two days of rescue operations, but five others remain trapped on a ledge 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) inside the cave system.
Rescuers had moved relatively quickly in order to take advantage of good weather, but heavy downpours early Tuesday could complicate their efforts.
Former Chiang Rai governor and rescue mission commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn said Monday night that it would take 20 hours to prepare for the third operation, but he cautioned timings could change depending on weather and water levels.
Rescue workers and divers are using the break to rest and prepare for the next phase of the grueling operation, which Osotthanakorn said involves some of the hardest diving in the world.
The eight boys who have left the cave are being treated in an isolation ward in Chiang Rai hospital. Doctors are monitoring them for illnesses they may have picked up in the cave, and are helping build up the boys’ strength after more than two weeks underground.
Osotthanakorn the boys rescued are well and that those rescued Monday were in better condition than those freed the previous day.
‘Now or never’
The boys were exploring the caves on June 23 with their coach when they were trapped inside by heavy seasonal rains. After they were found on July 2, officials cautioned it could take some time to get them out, but authorities decided to act with heavy rains forecast to hit the region.
After days of planning, the first four boys emerged Sunday after an arduous journey. Each boy was accompanied underwater by two divers helping them navigate the dark, murky water in the flooded tunnels. Each operation has taken at least nine hours.
The most dangerous part of the journey out of the labyrinth cave system is the first kilometer, during which they are required to squeeze through a narrow flooded channel.
Rescuers need to hold the boys’ oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes. Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.
Another four boys were rescued Monday. Four boys and their coach remain in the cave, but it’s unclear if authorities will try to extract them in a group of four or try to take the five out in a single mission.
Source : CNN