Monday, 22 October, 2018

The Australian doctor playing a key role in Thai cave rescue

Expert mountaineering volunteers prepare to descend into an opening in the rock face to investigate if there is a route to the cave where the boys are. They are accompanied by National Park authority workers and Thai soldiers Thai cave rescue: Over 100 shafts drilled into mountain, as rescuers race against time before expected rains set in
Steven Clarke | 08 July, 2018, 17:04

The first two members of a Thai schoolboy soccer team have been rescued from the flooded cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, a local rescue official said on Sunday. He has been criticized by many Thais for leading the boys into the cave.

Word is that the British divers participating in the rescue specifically requested him, and that he is back in the cave helping in the rescue effort right now.

More than 100 shafts are being drilled into a mountainside in Northern Thailand in a frantic bid to reach a group of young footballers and their coach trapped in a cave complex below, the head of the rescue operation said on Saturday (July 7).

The most critical will be airlifted by helicopters while the less fragile will be transported by ambulance. It remains unclear how numerous boys have actually left the cave.

THAM LUANG CAVE, Thailand - A risky rescue mission to free 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a Thai cave for two weeks began on Sunday, authorities said, with the first survivor to possibly emerge 11 hours later.

Water levels have dropped significantly in the cave, so the boys will be able to walk out for part of the way before they have to make a treacherous dive in dark and muddy waters out of the narrow cave passageways, officials said.

The death on Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks of making the underwater journey.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days. But Narongsak said it would probably take even longer - until December or January - for the water level to get that low.

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In one of the team's letters, posted to the Thai navy SEALs' Facebook page, a boy expressed his gratitude. The boys had moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water.

The operation to bring them out of the cave, where they have been trapped for two weeks, has begun and the first of the group are expected to be freed from the cave at around 12am AEST.

While rescuers sought alternative routes down into the cave, a vehicle skidded off a dirt track near the scene Saturday, seriously injuring the driver, a passenger, and four volunteers, authorities said.

They are being rescued in groups. Getting trained divers in is easier than getting untrained kids out.

Mr Narongsak said the boys and their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong are physically and mentally fit for the rescue bid. He said Dr Harris had all the characteristics to undertake the rescue mission.

According to rescue authorities, 14-year-old Adul "Dul" Sam-on will be one of the first four kids to come out, while the coach will be the last. "He's thinner", she said, as she ran her finger over the image of her son on a television screen.

This past week, water levels have been declining in the cave, as the rain has held off and officials have continued to pump water out of the cave system. Another option would be to drill a hole into the cave and airlift the boys out.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has sent a team of engineers to Thailand to see if they can help in the rescue effort.

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