Thailand: 'Today is D-Day' as mission to extract cave boys begins

12 Juillet, 2018, 06:37 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Thailand: 'Today is D-Day' as mission to extract cave boys begins

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit are trying to bring the boys - some as young as 11 and weak swimmers - through narrow, submerged passageways that claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk says he has been building a "tiny, kid-size submarine" with "feedback from Thailand" in an effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave.

Mr Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions.

The entire operation to get all 13 out of the cave could last 2-4 days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj.

Constant pumping has reduced the water level inside the cave, but new rain could not only re-flood the area, but also strengthen the water currents in the narrow passages though which rescuers and the boys must swim with the help of diving gear to exit the cave.

Kobchai Boonyaorana, deputy director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department of the Interior Ministry, told reporters today that the water level in the cave had continued to recede, and that rainfall was less than expected.

The rescue mission began after rainshowers soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai province for the past 24 hours, heightening the risks in what the governor has called a "war with water and time" to save the team.

On Saturday, rescue mission chief Narongsak said conditions were "perfect" to evacuate the team in the coming days before fresh rains and a possible rise in carbon dioxide further imperil the group.

The "Wild Boar" football team went exploring in the Tham Luang cave network after a football game on June 23 and got trapped kilometres deep inside the cave system as floodwaters caused by heavy rains blocked the entrance.

The boys are expected to come out of their subterranean prison at around 9 pm local time (1500 CET), although Osottanakorn warned that there was "no time limit" and that the rescue operation could take days or be halted at any time.

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The 12 boys and their coach were found by a pair of British cave divers on Monday.

A South Australian doctor is among the experts involved in the rescue mission to retrieve 12 schoolboys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand.

Flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days. He posted a video of a diver testing the device in a pool.

"Extremely robust", Musk tweeted a couple of hours ago, adding that construction on the vehicle will be "complete in about 8 hours" after which it will be sent on a 17-hour flight to Thailand.

The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday.

"Don't worry that I am missing for two weeks, I will help you at the shop soon", another one told his parents. "Love you all", a boy whose nickname is Mick wrote with a pencil on a piece of paper.

Another, identified as Tun, writes: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine". "To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care".

Another letter read, "I'm fine but it's a little bit cold, don't worry and don't forget my birthday".

"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologize to the parents".

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