The missing group of Thai youth soccer players (ages 11-16) and their 25 year-old coach have been found alive, though a bit worse for wear after nine days trapped in a northern Thailand cave.
Despite a massive effort, including a coalition of 1000 international divers, rescue workers, and other personnel all working together to find and rescue these 12 boys and their coach, it may still be months before any of them see the light of day and their families again.
Rescue efforts have been severely hampered by continuing heavy rains in the region that blocked access to chambers where it was hoped the team was surviving.
It was an unexpected storm that initially flooded the six mile long cave in Chang Rai, northern Thailand that the team had been exploring post-game that fateful day. Now filled with fast-flowing "coffee-like" muddy floodwaters, the Tham Luang Nang Non cave presents an extremely dangerous and difficult rescue mission, each option for rescue fraught with potential peril for these children.
At this point, a rescue plan has not been finalized yet, with all possible options still being explored. This is because heavy rains still threaten the region (in fact, more are expected later this week) which could continue to worsen conditions in the cave even though, rescue workers are continuing to pump water out of the cave.
Taking the boys out by scuba diving is also filled with danger, as it took Thai Navy SEAL divers and three British diving experts to navigate the rushing floodwater-filled narrow passageways of the cave, at times having to remove their gear to pass, just to reach the boys—reportedly none of whom can even swim.
According to Yahoo News it is thought the boys:
"...will either have to learn to swim and then to scuba dive through very narrow passages, or face waiting as long as four months for waters to subside."
These are our highly trained specialist officers entering the #ThamLuang caves yesterday - in search for the missing soccer team. We are happy and proud to be one part of such an incredible international effort. #ThailandCaveSearch #teameffort #allinthistogether pic.twitter.com/GpWM8M8LCU— AFP (@AusFedPolice) July 3, 2018
According to 9News Australia:
...the boys drank clean rainwater from the ceiling of the caves...[they were] given high-protein liquid food, and meals of sticky rice and pork to replenish their bodies, and they are mostly in a stable condition.
It seems the whole world is watching and holding their breath for these brave boys:
For a few minutes nothing else matters anywhere else in the world. 12 children and their teacher have been found alive after 9 days. Doesn’t matter which God you believe in, he answered their prayers. As a parent and humanitarian I can feel their relief #Thailand #ThaiCaves— Denise Slater (@mrsbun2002) July 2, 2018
What a wonderful outcome. 10 days surviving in the dark without knowing if you are being looked for, must have been traumatic. However, they looked very calm and controlled.— David Tait (@DavidJohnTait) July 2, 2018
Amazing find. All of the world is watching and hoping.— Prof Jon Skinner (@JonSkin81264180) July 2, 2018
Some are already clamoring for a movie:
Can’t wait to see the movie version, this is an incredible story!— Spaceman Doug (@Deadheart860) July 3, 2018
Currently, divers and doctors are both being sent in to provide medical attention and supplies, as the boys have been without proper hydration and nutrition throughout their 9 day ordeal. Rescue workers are expected to pump air into the cave to improve circulation in the Tham Luang Nang cave system.
9News Australia is reporting that according to Captain Akanand Surawan of the Royal Thai Navy:
. ..the boys would be supplied with four months’ worth of food, because it could be safer to simply supply them where they are for now, rather than attempting to have the boys dive out.
Though finding the group alive is definitely something to celebrate, this is an ordeal that is far from over for these young boys.