The dramatic attempt to rescue 12 trapped Thai youth soccer players and their coach has gripped the world, as their fate hangs in the balance.
Millions of prayers continue to pour in as scores of rescue workers try and figure out the best way to reach the young coach and his team, but the latest news is not of the positive kind.
First, an experienced rescue diver lost his life this morning while trying to set up oxygen tanks along the treacherous cave route. Read more on that below:
Now, officials have called off the rescue attempt saying the boys aren’t skilled enough at diving to pull off the dangerous journey out of the cave. That information was according to to the governor of Chiang Rai, according to reports.
After evaluating all of the various scenarios, officials ultimately decided to wait, even though the threat of heavy rains loomed large in the decision-making process. The cave system acts as a sponge, and whenever the water rises anywhere – it rises everywhere. Rain could pose a serious problem, but officials say a better extraction plan is needed.
A new attempt today to create a new entrance by drilling into the surface above the team failed, leaving rescuers with only one option: get them out through the tunnels.
Help is coming from all directions – sometimes not all of it wanted. A group of volunteers inadvertently began pumping water back IN to the cave instead of out, while Elon Musk has sent resources from his SpaceX company to aid the rescue efforts.
The Fifa president has invited the young soccer players to the World Cup final in Moscow in the event they’re able to be evacuated in time. Let’s pray that everyone does indeed get out soon unharmed.
If you’re just catching up on the story, here’s the background:
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.
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.
WHAT ARE THEIR OPTIONS?
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.”
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.