Twelve boys and their football coach may be trapped in a Thai cave for months while they learn to dive.
The group was trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai province for 10 days before being found by rescuers.
It has now emerged that their ordeal is not over, however, and that they will be given enough food to last four months while they are taught to dive.
The huge international rescue effort had been made more difficult by the fact that the underground cave network was partially flooded by monsoon rain.
After the boys were found, the question moved to getting them out through the underwater cave system, as they are about 2.5 miles from the entrance.
According to a statement from Thailand’s Armed Forces, navy Captain Anand Surawan said: “(We will) prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water.”
But one cave rescue expert was cautious about this approach.
Anmar Mirza, US National Cave Rescue Commission co-ordinator, said: “Trying to take non-divers through a cave is one of the most dangerous situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy.”
He said that “if the dives are difficult then supply(ing the group on site) will be difficult, but the risk of trying to dive them out is also exponentially greater”.
Sky News’ Lisa Holland, who is at the scene, said: “Getting back from this area in the caves and back to the mouth of the caves is going to be very, very tricky indeed, because the divers have only managed to reach the Pattaya Beach area because they are skilled.”
The British Cave Rescue Council said in a statement: “Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider.”
The news comes just hours after footage was broadcast showing the moment the searchers discovered the group.
The boys were sitting or standing on the rock above a large area of water as they were lit up by rescuers’ torches.
“How many of you are there? 13? Brilliant,” a rescuer can be heard saying.
“You have been here 10 days. You are very strong.”
“Thank you,” one of the boys replied.
One of the boys asked when they would be able to get out of the cave, and the rescuer replied: “Not today. You have to dive.”
The rescuers included British divers John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, and a team of Thai navy SEAL divers.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach during a post-practice trip to explore the cave, which is near Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar.
Medical teams said the boys had only light injuries as a result of their ordeal.
From – SkyNews