March 20, 2019

12 boys and coach found alive in Thai cave

02 July 2018, 10:29 | Devin Moran

Thai Rescuers Push Further Into Flooded Cave in Search for Missing Boys

Divers cling to hope of finding lost Thai boys

Relatives pray for missing young soccer team members and their coach in a cave during a rescue operation.

The worldwide rescue operation - which included the Thai Navy SEALs as well as experts from the US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom - had been working to reach a large, deep chamber, informally named Pattaya Beach, where they believed the missing boys had taken refuge.

BANGKOK-Thai rescuers said they were moving closer Sunday to where they think 12 boys and their soccer coach may be trapped in a sprawling, flooded cave complex, but still haven't made contact with them, more than eight days after they went missing.

When a Thai military official announced the rescue at a base camp near the mouth of the cave, loud cheers went up from the searchers, who had been praying and working feverishly for such an outcome.

The Australian team has joined forces with earlier arrivals of five Chinese hikers, up to 32 USA forces personnel, three British divers and a British cave expert as well as rescue teams from Myanmar and Laos.

Navy SEAL divers were within 600 yards of the trapped Thai soccer team in the Tham Luang cave that flooded after heavy rains and prevented the 12 boys and coach from leaving the caves under Pattaya Beach.

In the course of their search they were repeatedly blocked by rising water that filled sections of the cave and forced them to withdraw for safety reasons.

Experts in cave rescues from around the world had gathered at the site.

The rescue effort has three strands: divers are trying to swim through the flooded caves to search for the missing team; soldiers are looking for fissures that may provide more ways in to the complex, and engineers are pumping out millions of gallons of water.

On Saturday Australia also deployed a team of six experts from its national police's Specialist Response Group, according to the country's Minister for Foreign Affairs.

"This is today's aim is to widen this hole", Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osatanakorn told reporters on Monday.

"They [the police officers] have cave diving experience". But they could not advance farther than 200 metres from their current position, the team reported.

"They should be okay without food for eight days", he said. "But the water flow rate isn't great enough", he said.

"We are exploring 11 potential shafts today. Many good signs", the football team's head coach Nopparat Khanthavong, 37, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Sunday, July 1.

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