A team of about 30 Thai Navy SEALs is training 12 boys stuck in a cave in northern Thailand to use scuba equipment while teams are hard at work trying to drain the cave in preparation for their possible evacuation.
“The water is very strong and space is narrow. Extracting the children takes a lot of people,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said, according to Reuters. “Now we are teaching the children to swim and dive.”
A video posted by The Guardian overnight Wednesday shows the boys in good spirits addressing the camera. Yet authorities are racing against the clock to extricate them, as heavy rains are expected to intensify, which will raise the water level in the cave.
“Rescuers have to work quickly because by Friday a storm is coming, and if the rain starts again the cave is going to be fully flooded,” Ruengrit Changkwanyuen, part of the Thai contingent of the international diving team that found the boys, told The Guardian. “If that happens it will be almost impossible to send supplies or keep in touch with them.”
The rescue team found the boys and their assistant soccer coach on Monday, nine days after they went missing. The boys did not know how to swim, and parts of the cave have flooded. The Thai government has put in motion herculean efforts to try to save them, such as running extraction drills, pumping out water and sending medical and food supplies to the boys.
Officials plan for rescuers to escort the boys through the 2.5 miles to the mouth of the cave, parts of which are underwater. Medics will remain in the cave with the boys until they can be evacuated.
“I am dying to see him,” the mother of one of the boys told The Guardian. “I miss him.”