5. Jul, 2018

Boys trapped in Tham Luang cave found, but not rescued yet

The 12   boys from a soccer team and their  coach that were found  in Tham Luang Cave some 400m after Pattaya Beach, roughly 2-3 km deep into the cave were given power gel food (a high-protein gel type of food full of vitamins and minerals used for cases of starvation) antibiotics, penicillin, pain killers and fresh water. 

Left: reconstruction drawing  of the Tham Luang Caves (NRC Wednesday Juli 4 2018)

The fact that it took the trained cave divers 10 days to find them clearly shows that their rescue is not over yet. But the teenager rescue is not over yet And sadly today (Friday) a volunteer rescue diver Saman Gunan lost consciousness underwater during an overnight operation delivering extra air tanks inside the cave, along the treacherous route divers take to get to the trapped soccer team, in an attempt to reach the boys. The boys  need to get out now, instead of waiting until the monsoon is over.  After pumping water out of the cave the water level in the first two chambers (over a distance of 1.5 km to the entrance of the cave)  would now reach to the chest of the boys. Meaning that a part of several hundred meters is still submerged. Time becomes critical because heavy rains are expected on Sunday which may raise the water levels again including the chamber of the boys.

From my safe side of the world, I wonder if it would not be possible just to pull (extract) the boys through the still inundated corridors.  For example by using a long lifeline attached to a body harness, Hookah air hose, and a full face mask.  And with rescue operators assisting underwater in the chambers that still have air in the top as intermediary rescue stations (see insert). It has to be done one by one, of course with lights placed at critical narrow passages. Bringing in diving gear such as diving cylinders does not seem a good option. This would definitely mean trouble considering the narrow passages and lack of experience of the boys.

(see the News section for a follow up of the operation)