Missing soccer team found alive in Thailand cave after being trapped for nine days

Missing soccer team found alive in Thailand cave after being trapped for nine days

Twelve boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old soccer coach, have been missing for nine days. After practice, the Wild Boars team went to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave, the fourth longest in Thailand. They had explored the cave before, but this time they ventured deep into the network, past the signs warning not to enter during the rainy season. After a sudden, heavy downpour, they became trapped in the tunnels by the rising floodwater. (They entered the cave on June 23, and the rainy season typically begins on July 1.)

An international rescue team has been working around the clock to find the missing boys. The team includes the Thai Navy SEALS, plus cave diving experts and survival specialists from the UK, United States and Japan. Their efforts have been complicated by the rising floodwater, small passages and near total darkness. Now, after nine days of desperate searching, the twelve boys and their coach have been discovered alive.

On Facebook, Thailand's Navy SEALs posted the first video of the Wild Boar team inside the Than Luang cave. Exhausted family members camping outside the cave celebrated when they heard the news. "I’m so happy I can’t put it into words,” one relative told television reporters, who cried tears of joy. However, the boys were found about a mile and a half underground, and are reportedly in weak condition. Bringing them to the surface poses several challenges and could take days.

Thailand boys found in cave Credit: Facebook

In the video, the rescuer,  a British diver, confirms that everyone is alive. Then he assures them, "You're very strong ... We’re coming, it’s OK. Many people are coming, we are the first." Due to the darkness, the boys and their coach have lost all sense of time, and did not know nine days, nearly ten, have passed. It is said that when the boys went missing they only had enough food for two or three days. The SEAL team has given them energy cells to sustain their strength, and warned them that escaping the cave will take time. For their families, it will be a nerve-wracking wait.

Missing Thailand soccer team Credit: Getty Images

At a press conference, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters they plan to continue draining water, and will be sending in a medical team to check the boys' health. "They are all safe but the mission is not completed. Our mission is to search, rescue and return. So far we just found them ... If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave."

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a statement thanking the international rescue team for their efforts. "The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and co-operation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery," his office said in a statement.

It's remarkable that the twelve boys and their coach were able to survive for so long with just two to three days of food. It's hard to imagine being stranded for nine, nearly ten days, in almost total darkness. Hopefully they will make it to safety and be reunited with their families soon.