Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Cave rescue diver hails 'incredibly strong' boys

Eight boys rescued from cave in northern Thailand Thailand Cave Rescue Saves 8 Children Trapped For Weeks Underground
Rosie Leonard | 11 July, 2018, 06:28

Rescue personnel prepare the transport for the evacuation of the boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, Tuesday in this photo obtained from social media. Four boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach remain deep in the cave, an ordeal that has lasted more than two weeks after they were trapped inside by floods. They were missing for nine days before being discovered by British divers last week.

Thai Health Secretary Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk told reporters earlier on Tuesday that two of the first eight rescued boys had lung infections.

It is still unclear why the young coach made a decision to lead his boys some two-and-a-half miles into the forbidden cave system on the cusp of the rainy season, but when the group did become trapped he demonstrated leadership and maturity far beyond his years.

The death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in a flooded area of the cave on Friday underscored the dangers of the escape route. Rescue crews are anxious about the amount of air the trapped children are using, which is being drained rapidly.

Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which both lasted several hours.

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the rescue effort, said earlier that Tuesday's operation began just after 10 a.m. and involved 19 divers.

Officials there reported the first four rescued can now stand up and walk, but they can't go far.

The riveting Thai drama is reminsicent, of course, of the stunning rescue of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days in 2010. Each team member has to spend time in isolation for fear of spreading infection; health officials expect all of them to be in the hospital for at least a week.

The boys, aged 12-16, were the first to be extracted on Sunday and Monday, while the final four and their coach spent a 17th night inside.

One of soccer's most popular teams, Manchester United, expressed its relief over the rescue and invited the boys and their coach, as well as those who saved them, to come see the team play on their home ground this season.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited the cave on Monday, said the boys had been given tranquillizers to stop them getting stressed on the way out of the cave, but he dismissed any suggestion they had been "sedated". "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected". When it became clear the boys were likely going to have to dive out, experts were sent in to teach them how to use scuba gear.

Boys number six and seven were brought out a little over an hour later, with boy number eight spotted being taken out at about 7.40pm local time.

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