The world let out a collective sigh of relief when the two British divers found the boy’s soccer team in northern Thailand, who have been trapped in a flooded cave for days. They were three miles from the opening of the cave, and severe flooding had prevented them from escaping. There are 13 altogether — 12 boys ages 11-16, and one 25-year-old soccer coach.
They have been found, but the ordeal is far from over, as getting the kids out may prove even more difficult than finding them. The professional divers who made it to the kids have expressed to various news outlets just how difficult that was. Not only are the children weak from 10 days without food as well as other health complications such as exhaustion, and not only do they not know how to use dive equipment, but some reports are now saying that none of the boys know how to swim at all.
More rains are coming quickly. Experts say that if they are not able to evacuate the children and their coach soon, they may have to wait until the end of the rainy season — which could be another four months. However, other experts have expressed concern about an incoming storm that may be worse than the last as far as the soccer team is concerned. This storm may threaten to submerge the cave in which the boys are held up, in which case they will be forced to get the boys out of there however they can.
There are several options then, when it comes to extrication. They may be able to train the boys to breathe through the diving apparatuses, and then use ropes to climb back while being guided by professional divers, like the Royal Thai SEALs who have been involved since the beginning. Authorities have made it very clear that they do not want to begin extrication until they are 100% certain that they can do it safely, barring a life or death emergency like the water level in the boys’ current cave rising quickly.
Another option is whether or not they can pump out just enough water to allow the kids to keep their heads above water level the entire way back. With guidance from professionals, this is an ideal option with minimal risk to their lives. However, pumping that much water out is incredibly difficult, especially if rains continue to fall.
Still, as they wait for extrication, they are in a much better position than when they were first found. They have been provided food, medical attention and warm clothing. They are kept company by medical personnel who are dive qualified, as well as military personnel like the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit (UDAU), colloquially known as the Royal Thai Navy SEALs.
A video taken by Royal Thai Navy SEALs:
The following video, also taken by the Royal Thai SEALs, is an excellent example of just how tedious and difficult this operation has been: