If you’ve seen the news or been on social media this week, you’ll have heard that 12 boys and their coach have been found alive inside a complex Thai cave system, nine days after going missing.
Although rescue divers have found the group – they may have to remain in the cave system for months rather than days. The intricate systems within the cave are currently flooded as a result of Thailand’s monsoon season, and high water is restricting their exit.
The amazing news that the boys had been found was soon followed by expert advice which said that the group may need to remain in the cave for months, rather than days. Their location within the intricate cave system means they cannot simply be rescued – the boys and their coach will either need to learn to dive to exit or will have to wait for the monsoon season to be over.
Andrew Watson, MRS Training & Rescue’s Commercial & Operations Director, has been speaking about the current situation to various national and international news organisations today. As rescuers ourselves, we wanted to congratulate and support everyone involved in this amazing and on-going rescue efforts.
What will happen now?
When found, the boys and their coach were trapped in complete darkness, grouped together on a small rock ledge. The divers have already brought oxygen into the cave – but in the next few days, the priority is to get a doctor to the boys, food, medical supplies and lights. A base camp will be set up in the cave to care for everyone involved until a plan can be put in place.
Divers have also been preparing power and telephone lines, so the boys can speak to their parents and families – something we’re sure they’re all looking forward to! The health and mental health of the trapped group is the priority, as both will be a factor in their escape.
What are the rescue options for the group?
Diving to rescue the trapped group would be the quickest way to free them, but also the most dangerous. Rescue divers would have to guide the boys through the water with no visibility, twists, turns and gaps. Also, any rescue attempt not only needs to consider the risks of achieving the objectives, it also needs to consider the risks to those involved in the rescue attempts.
“I cannot praise the dive team enough. To persevere in attempting to locate the children in what must have been extremely difficult circumstances. After nine days it must have been difficult to keep their morale and hope up. To keep going under these circumstances is very impressive. The fact that they are British just adds to the pride in what they have achieved.”- Andrew Watson, Operations Director – MRS Training & Rescue
Waiting for Dry Season
At the moment, water seems to be the biggest issue for rescuers – as it’s monsoon season in Thailand so water levels within the cave system are extremely high. One option is to wait for the dry season, but this could be months away.
International Rescue Support
Divers from ‘The British Cave Rescue Council’ have been supporting the Thai Authorities and were the first to find the trapped group. All in all, over 1,000 people, from around the world, have been involved in the rescue effort so far.
“This is an example of what the world feels when people are trapped underground or in a confined space. This is amplified by the fact that children are involved. The rescue world has come together to attempt to make the very difficult possible. All this while the world watches.” - Andrew Watson, Operations Director – MRS Training & Rescue
You can read more and see some of Andrew's interviews at: