The rescue of a group of young boys trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, with their teacher has been called off until tomorrow (Monday 9 July).
Just as four of the youngsters were able to be rescued from the water-filled cave today (Sunday 8 July), after a disastrous adventure trip to celebrate one boy’s birthday, it has become clear the remaining eight and their teacher will have to wait even longer.
The group has been trapped underground for two weeks now:
Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit guided the four boys to safety through a narrow, submerged passageway, reports Reuters.
The rescue operation claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday, showing just how perilous the mission to save the group, who were exploring the cave complex near the border with Myanmar with their coach, 25.
But as night fell over Chiang Rai, the operation to rescue the remaining eight boys – some as young as 11 years old – and their coach was called off until Monday morning.
The rescue teams will need up to 10 hours to prepare for their next operation, involving about 90 divers in total said the head of the rescue operation, Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn.
Divers, 50 of them from foreign countries, have been steadily delivering supplies to the stranded football team but the path to them has been dangerous and difficult to navigate.
The boys and their football coach would need to crawl out of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave, located in Chiang Rai, north Thailand, which is filling up with water, in complete darkness under the guidance of the rescue operatives.
They would also need to make their way over a rocky peak before going back down into dangerous waters again and through a 15-inch narrow passage to freedom.
Meanwhile, fear is mounting over the safety of the group, some of whom are weak swimmers as weather reports indicate they are expecting a monsoon which could flood the cave ‘like a tsunami’.
However, despite the direness of the situation the team of youngsters remain in good spirits and have even sent letters to their worried family members to assure them they are well.
Speaking to the media outside of the cave, Governor Osatanakorn said:
We’re trying to pump water out, but more and more is coming in from above and below. Our biggest concern is now the weather.
A heavy downpour comes down into the caves like a tsunami.
The children are learning how to dive. We’d like minimum risk, but we can’t wait until it rains heavily and worsens the situation.
If that happens, we’ll need to reassess. The key thing is the kids’ readiness to dive. If it rains, and the situation is not good, we will try to bring the boys out.
A helicopter flew the four boys to the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where they were taken by ambulance to hospital, having beaten what is being dubbed a ‘war with water and time’.
Our thoughts are with the brave young boys and their coach who are battling it out and remain waiting for rescue, hopefully on Monday.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the military junta which seized power in 2014, also plans to visit the cave site on Monday, according to a government spokesman.
If you have a story to tell, contact UNILAD via [email protected]