Thailand’s equivalent to the American Navy SEALs posted new images showing just how difficult the mission was to save the 12 trapped members of a youth soccer team along with their coach inside the miles-long Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province.
Equipped with diving gears, flashlights, and strong will to save the boys, the Thai Navy SEALs ventured deeply into the 6-miles long cave complex with floodwater that reaches up to their chins, as seen in several pictures they posted.
In other photos, the rescue team tries to pump the water out of the cave to make their effort easier by working with series of pipes.
“Seals are pulling water out of the cave as fast as possible for the safety of the Wild Boar team on the day they can be taken out of the cave,” Thai Navy SEAL wrote on Facebook, according to BuzzFeed News.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, have all been trapped inside the cave for nearly two weeks since they’ve gone missing on June 23 and first made contact with rescuers from the United Kingdom at 10:30 p.m. on Monday. They were all found about 1.2 miles inside the cave..
Despite reaching them, rescuers are facing yet another problem on how to extract all of them to safety considering the extremely difficult route to the exit and how some of the boys don’t know how to swim.
Authorities are looking at every possible angle to safely bring the boys back to their parents including pumping the water out, which have been hampered by the country’s rainy monsoon season, teaching them how to dive, and even drilling holes for their extraction.
“Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider,” the British Cave Rescue Council said. “They are also located in a relatively small space and this would make any potential drilling attempt as a means of rescue very difficult.”
Officials, however, admitted that bringing the boys back to safety could take quite a while, even a few months. Luckily, the rescuers brought the trapped teenagers food enough to last for at least four months.
“[We will] prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water,” Thai Navy Captain Anand Surawan said in a statement.
There is also the possibility that not all of them can be extracted all at the same time, according to governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osottanakorn.
“All 13 may not come out at the same time. If the condition is right and if that person is ready 100 percent, he can come out,” he told the Associated Press.
For now, officials are in the process of installing fiber optic lines inside the cave to the location of the boys so that they could have internet access to contact their families and loved ones, according to the deputy director of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
Despite being trapped inside the cave for nearly two weeks without any food, the teenagers could still be seen smiling in videos released by Thai Navy SEAL.
Their injuries, mainly on their feet, were also treated by the rescuers.
The U.K. is now shipping equipment that could help pinpoint the boys’ location inside the cave from the surface if officials ever try to drill a hole for their extraction.
Images via Facebook / ThaiSEAL