Escape by Diving 'not Suitable' Yet for Boys in Thai Cave

Geraldine Edwards
July 9, 2018

The rescuer, a former Thai SEAL, was working in a volunteer capacity and died during an overnight mission in which he was placing oxygen canisters, Thai SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew told a news conference.

Authorities have sent in food, water and medical staff, some of whom stay with the boys full time. Thai officials have been briefing the media once every morning at unspecified times and Thai navy SEALs have been posting videos and pictures of the boys and what's going on inside the cave.

Authorities have confirmed the diver's death was caused by lack of oxygen, and he died while making his way out of the cave complex where the group is trapped.

The Seal commander said oxygen levels in their shelter had dropped, but said a doctor was with the team monitoring their health.

He said the oxygen line is also tied to a telephone line that will provide a channel of communication for the children.

The massive rescue operation entered the 14th day on Friday after the 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped in the sprawling Tham Luang Nang Non cave by flooding on June 23.

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British divers Rick Stanton, a fireman in his fifties from Coventry, and John Volanthen, an IT consultant based in Bristol in his forties, were the first to reach the group.

One of the boys appeared to be wearing a red replica England shirt like the one worn by the team during their World Cup victory over Colombia.

Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and risky waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained.

The strategically placed canisters allow divers to stay underwater for longer during what is about a five-hour trip to reach the stranded team.

It is noted that the 38-year-old officer in the Thai Navy lost consciousness, when delivered oxygen tanks to children. They boys are weak but for the most part physically healthy. More rains are forecast for the region and could complicate further rescue efforts.

They are hoping that an upgraded draining effort can lower the water in an area where it is still at or near the ceiling. With the headroom the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.

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If the weather is on their side and enough water can be pumped out of the cave, the boys could get out the same way they got in, on foot, perhaps with some swimming.

Rescuers are considering other options including keeping the 13 inside the cave until the flood waters recede at the end of the rainy season in about four months.

He said he wanted to reduce risks but added that falling oxygen levels inside the cave were another "really big concern".

They had been trapped in a flooded Thai cave here for nine days.

Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk is sending engineers to Thailand to help rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave.

One of his enterprises is Boring Co., which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar.

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