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Trapped Thai boys learn to use scuba masks

By Allen Cone
Trapped Thai boys learn to use scuba masks
A Thai naval officer and rescuers work inside a cave complex Wednesday during the ongoing rescue operations for the soccer team and their assistant coach at Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai province, Thailand. Photo by EPA/Thai Navy Seal

July 4 (UPI) -- Rescuers taught a dozen teen boys and their soccer coach, trapped in a cave in Thailand, how to use scuba masks for diving before a possible evacuation.

Thailand's Navy Seals released a video of the boys aged 11-16 smiling and laughing with military divers while introducing themselves to the camera in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Chiang Rai province.

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Two British volunteer divers found the missing boys Monday night after a nine-day search. And seven members of the Seals, including two medics, have joined them.

Most if not all of the boys don't know how to swim. At a news conference Wednesday, the province's governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said the boys have been practicing wearing diving masks and breathing.

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He said it was unknown if an evacuation involving diving could be attempted.

"If it's risky or not safe, we will not proceed yet," he said. "It has to be 100 percent safe."

It takes experienced divers about 3 hours to go the 2.5-mile route from the cave entrance to where the boys are trapped, the British Cave Rescue Council said. It dispatched members to help with the operation.

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"There's air pockets along the way," Gary Mitchell, the group's assistant vice chairman, told The Independent. "It's confined spaces. It's almost zero visibility. There's currents to battle against in places as well. So it's a really quite a strenuous environment to be in," he said.

Officials would prefer to clear enough water from the system to allow the boys to walk out. By late Tuesday, about 32 million gallons of water had been pumped out.

Osatanakorn said they might not all be rescued at the same time.

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Despite being trapped in the cave for 11 days, the boys said they are doing OK.

The boys, wrapped in foil warming blankets, introduced themselves and delivered messages to their parents, letting them know they're in "good health."

A phone line will allow the boys to talk directly to their parents.

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