Thai Navy SEAL divers had an incredibly successful day, removing 8 of the 12 youngsters trapped in a cave along with their coach. Night has fallen in Thailand, and it appears rescuefforts have halted and the rest of the boys (and coach) will make the treacherous journey out of the cave tomorrow.
It has now been confirmed that a fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth boy have been pulled alive and from the cave and are undergoing a medical assessment.
The sixth, seventh and eighth boys to be rescued from the cave have all reportedly been carried out on stretchers and are now being treated at a field hospital before being flown to a medical facility in the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai. CNN is reporting that the rescue operation is finished for the day, with four members of the team and their coach still stuck within the cavernous labyrinth.
Four boys were successfully led out of the Tham Luang caves on Sunday before the operation was halted so that the oxygen tanks laid along the escape route could be refilled. Those involved in the extraordinary effort to rescue the boys from their terrifying underground prison remain hopeful that continued progress will be made today, having previously feared that the annex in which the team is located could flood at any minute.
“The weather conditions and other environments today are as good as yesterday. We should hear good news again,” said rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn, as reported by the BBC, adding that he anticipated teams have a three to four-day window to carry out their operation.
According to the Telegraph, Thai officials said authorities “hope to hear good news in the next few hours” from the mission that now faces a heart-thumping race against time and water. Incredibly, however, despite enormous rainfall overnight, the water levels within the cave network itself did not rise. Teams of military engineers have been relentlessly pumping water out of the ancient rock formations in a bid to lower the risk of flooding in the chamber where the team is stranded. As is normal for this time of year, ominous-looking monsoon rain clouds have continued to spread across the region, striking fear in the families who are becoming increasingly desperate to see their boys return home safely.
— Nicola Smith (@niccijsmith) July 9, 2018
Chiang Rai Health official tells Thai media that families of those boys rescued can see the boys as soon as tonight but “no hugging, no kissing” until blood tests are returned, to ensure they did not pick up contagious diseases such as potentially fatal leptospirosis
— amanda hodge (@hodgeamanda) July 9, 2018
The elaborate rescue plan came to fruition yesterday and involved the boys being escorted by two professional divers, one in front and one behind. The front diver carried the boys’ air supply, which was connected through a tube to a full-face diving mask. When the cave became too narrow to pass with a tank attached, the professional divers simply held their breath and guided the boys through. It was an astonishing feat of physical endurance and a staggering display of military diving expertise.
According to the BBC, officials decided to evacuate the boys in the weakest condition first, leaving the rest for later, assuming they’ll be better equipped to handle the trek out even after an extended wait.
Millions of people around the globe have been praying for the trapped boys and their coach, and the success of the mission so far is incredibly joyful news. Continue praying as the rest of the boys are guided to safety, as the danger still looms. The path is so treacherous, a seasoned professional died while trying to aid rescue efforts.
Many leading business figures have offered their assistance to the treacherous operation. One of these is Space X and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, who is hurriedly developing a “kid-sized submarine” that he hopes can be delivered to authorities in Thailand to help extract the boys from the caves.
“Got more great feedback from Thailand. The primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull. Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust,” Musk wrote on Twitter at the weekend. Yesterday, he posted a video of the submarine being tested at a swimming pool in Los Angeles.
Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand. Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try. Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks. Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018
Testing underwater in LA pool pic.twitter.com/CDO2mtjP2D
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
Musk is working closely with the Thai government and has sent Space X technicians out to Thailand to see if they can be of assistance. “Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand,” he tweeted. “Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try. Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks. Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.”
While it is unclear how successful the submarine would be given the challenging underwater terrain, it could serve as a vital last resort to transfer any of the boys who are injured, sick or simply too weak to swim.
Simulating maneuvering through a narrow passage pic.twitter.com/2z01Ut3vxJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
An Israeli tech firm has also made a vital contribution to the rescue efforts, providing radio devices that are able to make contact with each other even within the communication black spots of the cave. Utilizing complex coding that has been developed by the firm, a third radio is placed between the devices and is able to “bridge the gap” between the radios and carry audio communications – in such complex underground terrain, regular devices would usually require line-of-sight to make a stable connection.
“We see the video voicing data go through the radio to the other one,” said Uzi Hanuni, Founder and CEO of Maxtech Technologies, who has provided the devices to rescue teams in Thailand.
“It looks like a regular walkie-talkie but it’s not like that at all,” he added. “It has a smart algorithm inside it,” Hanuni explained, noting that it took twenty engineers “over ten years to do this magic.”
How are they getting them out?
The trip back and forth to the boys takes a mind-boggling 11-hours total, to and from. That’s for the best divers in the world, adept at navigating situations such as these. There’s a combination of walking, climbing, and diving – and there’s absolutely no natural light.
The past several days, workers have been rushing to put oxygen tanks and ropes in place along the escape route, to help guide the trapped boys out so they’re not navigating on their own.
The most dangerous part of the journey is at the halfway mark:
The toughest section is about halfway out – at a section called “T-Junction”, which is so tight the divers have to take off their air tanks to get through.
Beyond that a cavern – called Chamber 3 – has been turned into a forward base for the divers. There, they can rest before making the last, easier walk out to the entrance. They are expecting to be taken straight to hospital in Chiang Rai town.
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.
Continued prayers for a safe recovery!
We will keep you posted with the latest updates as the rescue operation continues.