Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Help reaches Thai cave boys after days trapped underground

Help reaches Thai cave boys after days trapped underground

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
This handout video grab taken from footage released by The Royal Thai Navy late July 2, 2018, shows missing children inside the Tham Luang cave of Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province. AFP

Help reaches Thai cave boys after days trapped underground

Food and medical help reached 13 members of a Thai youth football team found rake thin but alive, huddled on a ledge deep inside a flooded cave nine days after they went missing, as the focus turned Tuesday to how to get them out.

The Thai military said it is providing months' worth of food and diving lessons to the boys, discovered kilometres into the pitch-black and waterlogged Tham Luang network of caves in the country's monsoon-drenched north.

"How many are you?...thirteen... brilliant," shouts a British diver, in an astonishing exchange captured in a video of the moment help finally reached the youngsters.

The incredible footage showed the emaciated boys in baggy mud-slicked football jerseys, shielding their eyes from the divers' torches.

Much-needed food and medical supplies -- including high-calorie gels and paracetamol -- reached them Tuesday as rescuers prepared for a prolonged extraction operation, with several chambers still submerged.

"(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," Navy Captain Anand Surawan said, according to a statement from Thailand's Armed Forces.

The astonishing rescue sparked jubilation across the country after the country mounted a massive and gruelling operation beset by heavy downpours and fast-moving floodwaters.

"We called this 'mission impossible' because it rained every day... but with our determination and equipment we fought nature," Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said Tuesday.

The boys were discovered at about 10:00 pm Monday by British divers some 400 meters (1,300 feet) from where they were believed to be stranded several kilometers inside the cave.

In the video, posted on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page, one of the boys shouts to the rescuers: "we are hungry.. shall we go outside?"

In response the British diver says: "Many, many people are coming... we are the first," in reference to the vast and complex rescue operation that has taken over the mountainside.

'Unimaginable' rescue

The harrowing task of getting the boys out is complicated by the fact that they are in a weak state and are not experienced divers.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Experts said it could take weeks -- if not months -- to get them out with much of the cave still submerged by floods.

If diving proves impossible, there is a outside chance they can be drilled out or wait for waters to recede and walk out on foot.

But the clock is ticking with heavy rains forecast to return this week as the monsoon season bites deeper.

The priority is to rehabilitate the group before they start the tricky journey out, officials said, reluctant to offer a concrete timeline.

Relatives -- and much of Thailand -- exploded with relief and jubilation on getting the news the team were alive and safe.

"It's unimaginable. I've been waiting for 10 days, I never imagined this day would come," the father of one of the boys said.

The "Wild Boar" team became trapped on June 23 after heavy rains blocked the cave's main entrance.

Rescuers found their bicycles, football boots and backpack near the cave's opening, and spotted handprints and footprint further in -- leading them to the spot they were eventually found.

MOST VIEWED

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Nod given for school exams

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced that State-run higher educational institutions can hold examinations to end the academic year, while private schools can organise grade 9 and grade 12 examinations at their premises for two days. However, private institutions have to take measures to prevent

  • Kingdom’s exports to US mushroom 25.94% in first five months to $2.4B

    Though Cambodia’s exports to other countries have been stalled amid the evolving Covid-19 environment, the Kingdom’s shipments to the US were worth 25.94 per cent more in the first five months of this year than they were in the year-ago period. Bilateral trade between

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was