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Trapped Thai boys get diving lessons as rescuers plan extraction
July 21 2018, 08:09 | Irvin Gilbert
Agonising rescue ahead for Thai cave boys as nation rejoices
Tubes are used to try to pump water from the network of caves leading to where the boys are trapped.
Fresh details of the operation underway at the Tham Luang Nang Non to free the team were emerging on Thursday, as rescuers pushed ahead with multiple plans to extricate the group trapped underground for nearly two weeks.
Edd Sorenson, of International Cave Rescue and Recovery, warned that swimming out of the cave would be "extremely dangerous" and that the boys might panic.
An experienced SEAL diver takes around six hours to navigate the rugged, flooded kilometres-long course towards the entrance.
The two divers who found the boys are from the United Kingdom.
According to CNN, crews are now looking at if there is a hidden passage that they may be able to access rather than the incredibly unsafe alternative - a crash course in scuba diving. And the terrain is vastly different [in the cave] - visibility down to one foot at best (30 centimeters), confined spaces, all sorts of underground obstacles to concern yourself with as well.
Rescue teams are working in extremely hard conditions.
"If we must evacuate (the boys) out before they are ready due to the rain ... we will do so, but it will be the very last resort to do so", he said. And we know that the Thai authorities are looking at possibilities. They were mostly in stable condition and have received high-protein drinks. There's currents to battle against in places as well.
The chance of rainfall increases from Sunday, and alongside the increased rainfall is the threat of heavier downpours. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for 10 days.
"There's air pockets along the way", said Gary Mitchell, the group's assistant vice chairman.
Rescuers braced for a hard evacuation for 13 members of a Thai youth football team found alive in a cave nine days after they went missing, as a phone cable was hurriedly fed into the underground chambers in the hope of allowing them to speak to their families for the first time since their ordeal began. On Tuesday, the US Cave Rescue Commission's national coordinator Anmar Mirza said that while diving was the quickest option to bring the survivors out, it was also the "most dangerous" option.
A team of Thai Navy SEAL divers - including a medic - have joined them on the bank, while rescuers pour over evacuation plans from the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand before heavy rains return and raise the water level. The boys had moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water.
CNN is changing that narrative somewhat, referencing a new doctor's report that described the coach and two boys as experiencing exhaustion from malnutrition and quoting an unnamed Thai Navy SEALs member who says that based on the group's health, no extraction effort will be made on Thursday.
They are hoping to begin teaching the boys to swim as they attempt to free them from the flooded cave before the rainy season begins, which will push the water levels inside the tunnels up higher. Getting trained divers in is easier than getting untrained kids out.
Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said all members of the group did not have to be brought out at the same time, but could be extracted over days, depending on the weather.
Thai soldiers carry equipment inside a cave complex during the ongoing rescue operations.
"We have very strong ties with the country of Thailand, I'm closely following the rescue efforts to secure the lives of the 12 players and their coach", Fuchs said.
Some local firms have also offered help.
Outside the cave one of the boy's mothers teared-up as she watched the clip on a television screen, saying she was "glad" for a glimpse her son.