UPDATE: Rescue plans for Thai boys trapped in the cave
We can only pray and hope that the weather will be kind so that the water can begin to subside.
While Thailand and the rest of the world are elated to finally touch base with the missing Thai boys and their coach, the ordeal is hardly over. Now, the rescue team has a difficult task ahead of them.
How will they successfully extract 12 tired, hungry and weak boys out of the cave? Rescuers are worried about the boys’ weakened state and possible psychological damage from the trauma of being trapped in the dark for so long.
What is the plan now?
Current Rescue Plan Options
The rescue team’s top priority now is to supply the trapped boys and their coach with food and first aid. After doing this, they will have a better assessment on the boys’ conditions, and come up with the best possible plan to take them out of the cave.
Since the first contact and after receiving updates on the missing Thai boys and their coach, a few rescue options have been discussed:
- Get the boys to dive out.
- Dig them out of the cave.
- Get them to climb/walk out.
The rescue team has found alternative entrances and tried digging their way deeper. But as of now, none of those entrances are in any way connected to the chamber where the boys are.
Even if an outlet is found, the boys will still need to attempt climbing up to these locations before they can be airlifted to safety.
Considering their weakened condition, the safest, most logical option is, of course, to have them walk out of the cave. But with the continuing bad weather and monsoon around the corner, the caves are still flooded. This means waiting several months for the water to subside before they can come out.
The last option and probably the riskiest one of all is to teach the 12 boys to dive their way out. However, this option only serves as a last resort because cave diving is extremely technical and dangerous.
Experts have to take into consideration the boys’ frail state and the fact that they cannot swim, let alone dive. In similar desperate situations in the past, British experts have trained adult survivors to dive. But they have never attempted this on children before.
Timeline Updates on the Missing Thai Boys
23 June – Twelve boys of the of the Moo Pa football team and their 25-year-old football coach, are reported missing.
24 June – Search and rescue begins. Police and park officials find handprints and footprints.
25 June – Thai Navy Seals dive into the flooded cave with sustenance for the trapped boys.
26 June – Divers are forced back several kilometres by rushing floodwaters.
27 June – Heavy floods continue. More than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command join 132 Thai army, navy and police officers on site. Three British diving experts, 17 US air force rescue, and other foreign experts from Japan, Australia and China fly in to help.
28 June – Rescue operation is temporarily suspended due to limited space and danger to the dive team. Water is warm, so there is no threat of hypothermia. Water pumps are working around the clock to drain the floodwater. Drones are sent in to scout for alternative entrances.
29 June – Rescue teams find a possible entry point and make a site visit.
30 June – Weather improvements allow divers to go deeper into the cave to search for updates on the missing Thai boys. Rescuers begin conducting practice evacuation drills in preparation to extract survivors.
1 July – Divers go further into the cave and an operating base is set up with hundreds of oxygen tanks and other supplies.
2 July – The 12 boys and their coach are found 400 meters from Pattaya Beach (this is the nickname for the area near where they are trapped).
Hopes and Prayers
Thai navy captain, Anand Surawan said they will arrange four months worth of food to be sent to the group.
The boys need to focus on rebuilding their energy and mental strength for what is to come. They will attempt to train the boys and coach to dive, but for now, we can only pray and hope that the weather will be kind so that the water starts to subside.
Lead and feature image screengrabs: Royal Thai Navy