As the days roll on and the hours continue to tick by, the options seemingly become more limited. For a Thai team of 12 soccer players and their coach, all of whom have been trapped in a cave for several days, time is not on their side.
But they aren’t without hope and certainly aren’t without help.
What’s the situation?
Right now, all 12 players, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach are stuck in the cavernous belly of the Thuam Luang cave complex, where they’ve been trapped since Saturday, June 23.
Their perilous predicament is the result of an “initiation” ceremony, where the young players traveled deep into the lengthy tunnel, hoping to scrawl their names on an inner wall, then venture back out, according to diving instructor Ben Reymenants, who is working to save the youngsters.
The kids are roughly half a mile beneath the surface of the earth and more than mile away from the mouth of the tunnel that led to the damp and cavernous space from which they have so far been unable to escape.
Thailand Cave Rescue:
•12 boys & 25-year-old coach
•Boys are ages 11-16
•As far as 2.5 miles from main entrance
—Challenges of Diving Out—
•Most can’t swim
•Fast-flowing, murky water
•Some areas too narrow for scuba tanks
•Even elite divers have had difficulty maneuvering pic.twitter.com/jkcLP8FFM3
— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) July 5, 2018
The team was miraculously discovered after being lost for 10 days when a team of British rescue divers finally found them.
Who is helping?
Now that the children have been found alive, a massive team of first responders — including expert divers, medical staff, and law enforcement officers — are working around the clock to help bring the bunch to safety.
Among all those working to save the soccer team, two medical professionals — a doctor and a nurse — have volunteered to stay in the cave with the kids, tending to their medical needs, for as long as it takes — days, weeks, or even months.
And on the spiritual front, some of the players’ classmates are rallying at the mouth of the tunnel, where they are lifting the children and their coach up in prayer and song. “Believe in God. Only belief can move a mountain,” the kids declared in a song.
“We are here to pray and sing for them,” one classmate told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “We want our friends inside and rescue teams to know that we are sending our support.
A phone line has been installed so that parents can talk to their children as rescuers weigh options for extracting them from the flooded cave in Thailand. @ABC News' @JamesAALongman has the latest from Chiang Rai. https://t.co/ocLcphyaXl pic.twitter.com/wQBWcVQmS9
— ABC News (@ABC) July 3, 2018
In addition, first responders are working to set up a phone line between the earth above and the cave below so the soccer players and their coach can talk to their loved ones.
What are their options?
Rescue teams have been working to pump some 2,600 gallons of water out of the caves every hour. So far, roughly 34 million gallons of water have been removed from the flooded tunnel, equaling a decrease in water level of more than 15 inches since Wednesday, Gizmodo reported.
But a monsoon is quickly approaching, and it could set their rescue efforts back greatly.
Though the children are too weak to even attempt an escape at the moment, according to a Thai Navy SEAL with knowledge of the situation, the youngsters could eventually be forced to don full-face diving masks to navigate the treacherous and extremely narrow tunnel, which amounts to a six-hour journey.
“Diving is not easy,” Thai Interior Minster Anupong Paojinda told the Evening Standard. “For people who have never done it, it will be difficult, unlike diving in a swimming pool, because the cave’s features have small channels. If something happens midway, it could be life-threatening.”
Experts and dive teams working to evacuate 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand have to deal with many elements, including darkness, cold, rushing water and time. CNN's Tom Foreman explains what they're up against. https://t.co/X1V3OoafTQ pic.twitter.com/Cx56h9HsSN
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) July 4, 2018
If they are, however, able to sufficiently drain the water before the storm hits, the children would ideally be able to walk out. If the storm comes, though, before the children have been brought to safety, they could potentially be forced to remain in the cave for months.
Please continue to keep the soccer team, their coach, the medical experts, the rescue divers, and all the other first responders in your prayers.