Thai teen football team trapped in underwater cave: The story so far

On the 23rd of June, young Thai football players – aged between 11-17 – were trapped in the underwater caves of Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Cave in northern Thailand. The “Wild Boars” and their 25-year old-coach went out to explore the cave following a football game in Mynamar. It was supposed to be a five-hour hike, but the situation grew complicated as rain started flooding the channels. The team’s exit was blocked and they were forced to venture deeper inside in an effort to find shelter.

Timeline of the Rescue Operation 

June 23rd – The junior football team ventured out and got lost. A “Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non” National Park official noticed 11 bikes at the cave entrance and started the search for their owners, thus sparking the rescue operation.

June 25th – A rescue team of Navy Seal divers were sent to find and rescue the team.

June 27th – The rescue team started to pump out the water to unblock the cave channels. Thai authorities reached out to the international community. U.S. and U.K. divers responded to the call and joined the rescue operation.

June 29th – Authorities growing alarmed at the rate of the flooding and its effect on their ability to rescue the children. Australian and Chinese divers joined the rescue operation.

July 2nd – After 200 hours, the group was discovered by British divers. The British crew informed the boys that they have been holding on for 10 days, and praised them for their strength and perseverance.

Source: NDTV

July 5th – One of the divers, Saman Guann, lost his life during the rescue mission. The Ex-Navy seal ran out of Oxygen while trying to deliver Oxygen tanks to the team.

Source: BBC News

July 8th – Four boys were rescued from the cave in an operation led by a team of 13 British diver. The rescue team put the operations on hold due to the need to replenish oxygen supplies.

What makes this operation such an excruciating challenge? 

The team was found 300-400 meters away from Pattaya beach, where they were originally assumed to be. Moreover, as we approach the monsoon season, the rain has been constantly increasing and replacing the water that had been pumped out of the cave. The divers have to cut a large distance to get to the boys: two kilometers inside the caves and 1,000 meters below the surface.

International Community Outreach

The tragedy of the flooded caves has brought the international community together in a heartwarming gesture of solidarity as heroic volunteers from various countries heeded the call for help and showed up at the scene, ready to give their all to see the boys home and reunited with their distraught families. As of now, 90 divers have participated in the rescue, 40 of the best divers in Thailand and 50 from all around the world.

The heroic divers weren’t the only ones who heeded the call. Acclaimed tech entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk responded to a tweet asking for his help with the rescue operations. His space firm SpaceX, in cooperation with engineering company Boring Co., are building a ‘kid-sized’ submarine that could carry the children from the cave chambers. The submarine is set to arrive in Thailand today, according to Elon Musk.

He continues to update and interact with the international community through his twitter account. 

What’s next? 

As of now, eight out of the twelve boys have been rescued and brought safely to the surface by the team of elite divers. The rescue operations continue in an effort to outrun the monsoon season. Given the weather, the rescue crew could be looking at two to four more days of work to save the remaining four boys and their coach.