Thai soccer team stranded in cave may have to learn to use diving gear

5 July 2018

Thai soccer team stranded in cave may have to learn to use diving gear

The Thai soccer team, who were found alive on Tuesday nine days after they went missing in the Tham Luang cave complex, are now awaiting a strategy from rescuers to get them out of the flooded cave.

A strategy is being considered that involves the group — comprising of 12 boys aged between 11 and 16, and their 25 year old coach — learning how to use diving equipment.

The group could potentially be stranded in the cave for months before the wet season in Thailand ends, allowing for the cave’s water levels to decrease to create a safer, more visible way out.

The rescue method has been criticised because it is one of the most dangerous options, with US Navy SEAL Cade Courtley telling CNN that a group dive would be the “last option” he would take. 

The water conditions within the cave, due to such heavy and constant rainfall, are muddy, dark, and freezing, making an environment that even an experienced diver would find “quite scary”, Australian cave diver and engineer Ron Allum said.

To make matters more complex, the Bangkok Post reported that none of the boys know how to swim, adding to the increased risk of attaching diving gear to the boys for the first time in order to navigate a highly dangerous route.

The boys are currently all in good health, with warm blankets, food, water, and aid being provided whenever they need it, raising the question of whether rushing the boys out of the cave using a high-risk strategy is the right course of action.

Divers from the British Cave Rescue Council have been participating in the rescue.

Their assistant chairman, Gary Mitchell, said, “We are fairly sure that the boys are around 2 kilometres into the cave system, of which almost a kilometre of that is through flooded passages … where the water meets the roof.”

Mr Mitchell said the trip to get out of the cave takes about three hours for experienced divers, making the strategy to use diving equipment seem all the less suitable for the group.