Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Thai cave rescue: Boys in good spirits after daring rescue from flooded tunnels, authorities say

Thai cave rescue: Boys in good spirits after daring rescue from flooded tunnels, authorities say
10 Jul

Updated July 10, 2018 20:18:47

The eight members of a Thai boys soccer team who have already been rescued from a flooded cave complex have started to walk around their hospital beds and are eating solid food as they regain strength.

Key points:

  • Authorities decline to confirm whether they’ll attempt to bring all five still in the cave out in the third operation
  • Rescued boys will be staying in hospital for at least seven days
  • Authorities expecting heavy rain which could flood the cave tunnels with fast-flowing water

Jesada Chokdumrongsuk, deputy director-general of the Public Health Ministry, said the boys, aged 13 to 16, were now able to eat normal food, but nothing spicy.

He said two of them possibly had a lung infection but all boys were generally “healthy and smiling”.

“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” he said.

He said the boys were in “high spirits” and happy to be out of the cave, but would have psychological tests after their long ordeal.

The boys in the first group — aged 14-16 — were much hungrier, Dr Chokdumrongsukv said, a sign their bodies were more malnourished.

The boys in the second group were between 13-14, but were in better health overall.

The youngest boy, just 11 years old, is still inside the cave.

The first four boys have now met their parents through a transparent screen.

Medical teams had previously said concerns included hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as “cave disease”, which is caused by bat and bird droppings.

Thai authorities earlier started the third and final phase of the rescue to remove the remaining boys and their soccer coach from the cave as monsoonal rains intensify.

Three more boys have been rescued today, a rescue official said.

The mission, which started on Sunday, is a race against the clock. More heavy rain is expected this week, which would again flood the labyrinthine tunnels with fast-flowing, rising water.

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.

“All four boys have arrived at hospital, all are safe,” Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters of those freed on Monday.

Asked whether the remaining four “Wild Boars” and their coach would come out at the same time in the next rescue effort, he said: “It depends on the plan … we have set the plan for four people so if they want to take five out [at the same time], then they need to change the plan.”

Yesterday’s operation went more smoothly than Sunday’s and took two hours less as the practice became more refined, he said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation, with navy rescuers giving him a rousing cheer.

“The Prime Minister said that this kind of event should never happen again on Thai soil,” Mr Narongsak said.

“We should learn from this experience to prevent it from happening again.”

The players and their coach became trapped on June 23 when it set out to explore the cave after soccer practice and rains flooded the tunnels, trapping them inside.

British divers found the missing team a week ago.

‘Rescue has been immense’

But the efforts to rescue the boys — aged between 11 and 16 — have proved a monumental challenge.

Some are not even strong swimmers, and have had to learn to dive in conditions that claimed the life of a former Thai Navy SEAL on Friday.

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite Navy SEAL unit make up the main team guiding the boys to safety.

Authorities said the boys were being held close to divers and were wearing oxygen masks to enable normal breathing.

“The rescue has been immense,” said volunteer helper Somjit Saenset, 56.

“I’m so happy the children came out safely. I want to send my moral support for all involved [in the rest of the mission].”

Phuwadech Kamnguen, a 14-year-old best friend of one of the trapped boys, said he’s looking forward to eating KFC with the team again.

“Even when my friends have left the cave, I’m worried about their physical well-being. From what I’ve seen in the clip, they did look skinny,” he said.

The president of soccer’s governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out in time.


Topics: accidents, disasters-and-accidents, human-interest, thailand

First posted July 10, 2018 07:12:18

« »


Related Articles