Thailand cave: Boys trapped in cave unable to swim, complicating rescue efforts

Soldiers work outside Tham Luang while divers moved further inside the cave in Mae Sai district Chiang Rai on Sunday

Soldiers work outside Tham Luang while divers moved further inside the cave in Mae Sai district Chiang Rai on Sunday

Rescue experts have suggested the safest option would be to supply the children and their coach with food and medical supplies and wait for the water level to subside, which could take weeks or even months, but the expected heavy rainfall could complicate the equation.

"It's Monday, you have been here 10 days, 10 days", the rescuer replies.

Former US Navy Seal Cade Courtley told CNN that teaching the group to dive would be the "last option " he would take.

Now that the missing Thai soccer team has been found, the next step is determining how to get the boys and the coach safely out of a partly flooded cave in northern Thailand.

"They are really the sort of A-Team, if you like", he told the BBC.

Engineers have been pumping more than 2,500 gallons of water from the cave each hour.

Time may be against them given the region's incessant monsoon rains.

However Yuval Zalmanov, who is taking part in the rescue efforts for Israeli company Maxtech, which manufactures emergency communications devices, said he thought the group would make it out in a matter of days. "If the water rises, the task will be hard".

"My biggest fear is that they would decide, 'OK, we're going to leave them in there until the rainy season is over in a place where there are hunkered down, '" Dally said.

"Compared to what Rick and John are normally doing, this is extremely easy diving, the only complication was the flow of the water", he said, referring to the current. "For people who have never done it, it will be hard, unlike diving in a swimming pool, because the cave's features have small channels", Paojinda said. "If the gear is lost at any stage, it could be perilous", he said.

Worldwide rescue teams - which include the Thai Navy SEALs as well as experts from the US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom - had been working to reach a large, deep chamber, informally known as Pattaya Beach, where the missing boys were believed to have taken refuge. "Maybe some of the boys have injuries or light injuries and would be categorized as yellow condition".

ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman tweeted that one of the rescuers told him the boys and their coach are weak but not in critical condition.

Reymenants said of those trapped in the cave and the rescue mission: "They can't swim, so they definitely can't dive... They need another 3 or 4 feet so they can literally float them out with life jackets".

A doctor and a nurse were with them in the cave. He added, "Two Thai Navy doctors have volunteered to be locked up inside the cave...a huge sacrifice".

How did they get there?

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"But if that doesn't work, with the seasonal rain, we'll do it another way", he told reporters. "It was all speculation and pure luck that they were there".

"You would perhaps have to take one of the strongest out first as a first run and see how that went", he said. "If the cave system (floods) it would make access impossible to the kids".

The video then details questions asked by the boys, including when they will be rescued.

In video shot by rescuers as the boys were found, flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the ground in an underground cave beside an expanse of water.

"Taking them in the water would be extremely risky for the kids and the coach - but also for the rescuers".

Relatives of the boys, who have been at a shelter near the cave hoping for a breakthrough, were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after being given the news. Several fissures have been found and teams have explored some, though so far none have led to the trapped boys.

Thai navy SEAL divers and rescue workers from other countries made initial progress through a narrow passageway early Monday after passing through a key chamber Sunday whose high, murky waters had previously blocked their progress.

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