Thai cave: Divers prepare to resume rescue operation
11 July, 2018, 01:06 | Author: Edward Snyder
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said the same divers who took part in Sunday's rescue will return to extricate the others as they know the cave conditions and what to do.
A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS guided four boys on Sunday and a further four on Monday through narrow, submerged channels from the muddy bank deep inside the Tham Luang cave where they had been stranded for more than two weeks.
That brings to three the number of ambulances that have left the site Monday during the second day of a high-risk operation to bring the boys out of a labyrinth cave system made up of tight passageways and flooded chambers.
Four of the boys were safely rescued on Sunday after rescuers carried out a risky operation, amid fears the waters will rise again to a unsafe level.
Thailand's health secretary, Dr Jessada Chokedamrongsook, said the group would undergo a series of tests while quarantined in hospital.
Rescued schoolboys are moved from a military helicopter to an awaiting ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 9, 2018.
The "Wild Boars" soccer team and their coach set out to explore the vast Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice on June 23, and got trapped when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
The rescued boys were airlifted to the Chiagrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai after initial treatment at a field hospital near the caves, and the four boys rescued Sunday were said to be "in good condition". 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.
Following the successful evacuation on Sunday, rescue personnel assessed their performance and adjusted the plan for Monday, resulting in "a smooth, coordinated operation", deputy commander of the Third Army Maj Gen Chalongchai Chaiyakham told reporters.
But four boys had emerged by 8 p.m., quite a bit ahead of schedule - and all the more remarkable because the boys are novice swimmers, with no diving experience.
Underscoring the danger in the fast-moving waters, a former Thai navy SEAL died on Friday while moving the canisters, reportedly because of lack of oxygen.
Thirteen global divers and five Thai Navy SEALs are involved in the operation.
Thai officials had said Sunday that they were temporarily suspending the rescue effort so they could replenish oxygen supplies and other gear.
The boys, who have not been identified, were kept away from visitors due to concerns about possible infection. Jesada Chokdumrongsuk, deputy director-general of the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food.
"This morning they said they are hungry, and they wanted phad kra pao", he said.
"You can't make a horror movie that would even compare", said Anmar Mirza with the National Cave Rescue Mission.
"I'm hoping for good news", he said.
The boys are being escorted out of the complex cave system via a team of divers.
NPR's Tom Bowman noted last month that "a permanent end in the fighting does not seem to be anywhere in sight" in Afghanistan. The Taliban did not claim responsibility for the attack, but acknowledged it in a message on its official Telegram channel.
In the hours preceding the rescue, a letter the boys had sent to their families was published on the Thai SEALs' Facebook page . A spokesperson for the rescue operation told CNN that it would take multiple attempts to rescue all those trapped in the cave.
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Could the group swim out? "Extracting the children takes a lot of people", Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters. Unknown factors include the possibility of unsafe animals like snakes in the cave or of contamination from bat droppings.
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