Thai authorities have evacuated an eleventh child from the flooded cave for 17 days as part of the rescue operation initiated Sunday by elite divers from the Thai navy and foreigners.
One member of the soccer team and their coach are still in the cave as the complex rescue operation continues.
Early Tuesday, the director of rescue operations, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told reporters that the divers planned to release the four youths and their coach, who were still stuck in the cavern today.
During the same operation, a doctor and three other commandos of the Thai navy remained with the survivors in the cave will be evacuated.
On June 23, 12 soccer players, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, who had decided to visit the Thang Luam cave, a touristic site, found themselves stuck in the galleries four kilometers away. the exit by a surge of water, caused by the rains of the monsoon. They were found unharmed nine days later by British divers.
The first evacuees in quarantine
Earlier on Tuesday, an official from the Ministry of Public Health said that the first eight children evacuated from the cave on Sunday and Monday during the first two phases of the operation were “in good health” and were not “feverish”.
The eight boys already left were transported to a hospital in Chiang Rai, the capital of the province of the same name. They have not been reunited with their families yet.
“Everyone is in good mental health,” Jesada Chokedamrongsuk told reporters at Chiang Rai Hospital.
They can all move, talk and eat. Some could eat chocolate. The spicy food, common in Thailand, is however denied them: their stomach, deprived of food for a long time, being too fragile.
The children will remain under observation for a while before resuming their normal activities. Two of them are on antibiotics to treat the symptoms of pneumonia. Doctors keep them in quarantine to make sure that they do not contract any disease, given their current fragility.
All must wear sunglasses to protect their eyes and are followed by psychologists.
A perilous operation
The high-risk rescue operation mobilizes 90 elite divers, including 50 foreigners, who have come to lend a hand to their Thai colleagues in these exceptional circumstances.
On Friday, a Thai diver died when his oxygen stores ran out. He was on the way back after supplying the captive team.
The journey to the place where the team has taken refuge is more than 4 km. It takes the rescuers 11 hours to make the round trip: 6 hours to reach the victims and 5 hours to return outside. The difference of one hour is explained by the direction of the current.
Some passages of the cave offer only 40 cm to sneak, which makes it difficult for rescuers to escort young people who, in some cases, do not even know how to swim.
The narrowest passages force the divers to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them; these take up too much space if they are attached to their bodies.
During the rescue, young people are equipped with a mask covering their entire face rather than just their mouth, to facilitate underwater breathing.
A wire, which connects the group to the exit of the flood labyrinth, serves as a guide for specialized divers during the operation.
Jason Quick is the lead editor for Alabama Post Gazette. Jason has been working as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade having published stories in many print and digital publications including, The Birmingham News and Tuscaloosa News. Jason is based in Birmingham and covers issues affecting his city and his country. When he’s not busy writing, Jason enjoys skiing and painting..