11th person rescued from Thai cave on third day of operation

11th person rescued from Thai cave on third day of operation
PHOTO: Reuters

CHIANG RAI, Thailand - An eleventh person was rescued on Tuesday from a flooded Thai cave complex where 12 boys and their football coach were trapped for more than two weeks, raising hopes all 13 would be out by the end of the day.

A Reuters witness saw three people being carried out of the Tham Luang cave on stretchers separately on Tuesday, the third day of the rescue operation.

Eight of the boys were brought out on stretchers over the first two days - four on Sunday and four on Monday.

Officials were not immediately available to comment on who had been brought out.

Thai cave rescue: How each boy is extracted in complex process

  • Open gallery

    The 10-km long Tham Luang cave, which has been described as a labyrinth, sits near the Thai border with Myanmar.

  • Open gallery

    Rescue divers began operations on Sunday (July 8) to extract the 12 boys and their football coach from the massive Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

  • Open gallery

    Here's how the 12 boys might dive and walk out of the complex cave network. (Graphic Not drawn to scale)

  • Open gallery

    The boys are located more than 4km from the mouth of the cave. Most of the boys don't know how to swim.

  • Open gallery

    According to experts, divers required three hours to reach the boys from the mouth of the cave, Reuters reported. The boys' ordeal is expected to last 3 or more hours.

  • Open gallery

    This undated handout photo taken recently and released by the Royal Thai Navy on July 7, 2018 shows a Thai Navy diver in the cave during rescue operations.

  • Open gallery

    The boys will have to first dive for 400m before reaching Pattaya Beach, a chamber more than 4km from the cave's entrance. Then, they have to dive for another 130m before walking and climbing along a 400m-long dry area.

  • Open gallery

    The first, nearly 1km-long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most difficult, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.

  • Open gallery

    The 5-km escape route cuts through dark, flooded and narrow passageways, as this still from a video circulating online shows.

  • Open gallery

    How each boy will be tethered to the 2 adult rescue divers. Once past the first stretch, the boys' escape route forks east at a T-junction, and they must scrabble over some diverse terrain including giant boulders, sand and slippery rocks with sudden cliff-like drops and further submerged passageways.

  • Open gallery

    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

  • Open gallery

    The biggest crisis spot is a 38-cm-wide crevice close to the T-junction, known as Sam Yaek Junction.

  • Open gallery

    "The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it," a 25-year-old Thai Navy Seal told Reuters before the rescue attempt. "As I do, I feel the edges of the hole on both my back and chest."

  • Open gallery

    Rescue divers will have to remove their scuba tanks and roll them along while guiding the boys through. After that though, the tunnels widen, the waters subside, and walking is even possible.

  • Open gallery

    There are several 'choke points' in the complex cave network. After the dreaded T-junction, the rest of the journey is expected to be relatively safe as they will have reached a forward operating base inside the cave.

  • Open gallery

    Ambulances wait at the mouth of the cave to whisk the boys away to hospital when they emerge.

  • Open gallery

    Divers resuming the rescue mission on Monday (July 9).

  • Open gallery

    Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018.

  • Open gallery

    Rescuers venturing into the cave in a photo released on July 7 by the Thai Royal Navy.

  • Open gallery

    The high-risk operation at the Tham Luang caves paused overnight on Sunday (July 8) as rescuers recovered and oxygen tanks were replenished along the route.

  • Open gallery

    Torchlight only affords visibility up to three feet in the murky waters.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    A nearby hospital ready to receive the boys after they are rescued.

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said earlier the final operation would be "more challenging" because one more survivor would be brought out, along with three Navy SEALs who have been accompanying them.

The rescuers have been learning from experience and were two hours faster in bringing the second batch of survivors out on Monday.

However, scattered monsoon rains continued to risk percolating through the limestone cave walls to flood the tunnels with fast-flowing water.

"I hope today we will be faster or the same speed as yesterday," Narongsak said.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS has been guiding the boys out through nearly 4 km (2.5 miles) of sometimes submerged, pitch-dark channels.

The "Wild Boars" football team and their coach got trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after football practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers found the 13, huddled on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometers inside the complex, on Monday last week.

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around their hospital beds.

They are still being quarantined from their parents because of the risk of infection and would likely be kept in hospital for a week to undergo tests, officials said.

on Facebook

วันนี้ 10 ก.ค. 61 คงเป็นวันที่ยาวนานกว่าวันที่ผ่านมา แต่เราจะรอคอย ฉลองความสำเร็จร่วมกัน นะครับ Hooyah Today is 10 July 2018. It will be longer than previous ones. We will celebrate together finally. Hooyah!

Posted by Thai NavySEAL on Monday, 9 July 2018

Four more of the boys were carried on stretchers out of the labyrinthine Tham Luang cave on the Myanmar border at dusk on Monday, bringing to eight the number brought out after two rescue pushes on successive days.

People across Thailand, and the world, have cheered the rescue operation, including at the Mae Sai Prasitsart school where six of the trapped boys are students.

Technology billionaire Elon Musk went into the cave on Monday and left the rescue team with a "kid-sized" submarine his company SpaceX had built, Thailand's interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said.

Musk said on Twitter: "Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids' football team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future."

on Twitter

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.