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Thailand Youth Football Team Trapped in Flooded Cave For Days

A soccer team of 12 young players and their coach has gone missing in a flooded cave in northern Thailand. They have been missing for three days, and the authorities have not succeeded in locating or rescuing any of them yet. Thailand’s Navy SEAL team has been hampered in accessing the cave because a flash flood has filled the cave from the bottom to the ceiling in some parts, The New York Times wrote.

Locals familiar with the cave say it extends for many miles with narrow passageways and wide chambers. It also features rocky outcrops with various elevation levels.

Families Pray and Perform Rituals to Summon the Spirits of the Missing Boys

In order to make rescue operations possible, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda revealed that flood water must be pumped out of the cave to allow navy divers room to work. Unfortunately, the cave is flooded with murky water that even makes underwater lights ineffective. Divers are not able to see clearly with their lights in the murky water, and there is no room to come up for air since the chambers are flooded to the ceilings.

Paojinda says divers will be given oxygen tanks to enable them to stay longer underwater, but the lights are not very effective in the murky water. The newest solution is to drain the huge sprawling cave of water. Several times, rescue attempts have been suspended due to high water.

The young soccer players, aged 11-16, completed their sports practice on Saturday and then visited the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the Chiang Rai province, along with their 25-year-old coach. A mother who waited in vain for her son to come back home raised the alarm, prompting the authorities to launch a search and rescue operation.

Families of the missing boys performed traditional rituals to call out the spirits to help rescue the soccer youngsters from the flooded cave. Others held prayer vigils to pray for their safety, while others could only wail and cry inconsolably.

Authorities Warn People to Keep Away From the Cave during the Rainy Season

As part of the rescue operation, teams laid electricity and communication lines into accessible areas of the sprawling cave to ease rescue efforts. Interior Minister Paojinda said the SEAL team is working non-stop all round the clock on shifts. Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn said the power lines laid into the cave will provide lights for better visibility while working and fans for ventilation, as well as power for the water pumping machines.

Authorities said flood-trapped tourists had been rescued from the cave in past years after the water receded, and they are hopeful the boys may have found some safe place away from the floods. There are fears, however, that rescuing the boys through the high floods might be a complicated and very dangerous venture after they are found.

The cave is known to flood massively during the heavy rainy season that occurs between June and October. For this reason, the authorities usually warn people to keep away from the cave during this period. The Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the Chiang Rai province is carved into a mountainside close to Thailand’s border with Myanmar, CBS News reports.


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