Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Thai cave rescue: third mission planned amid heavy downpours around site

Thai cave rescue: third mission planned amid heavy downpours around site

Medical staff involved in the rescue mission said their first assessments when the boys arrived at the hospital focused on their breathing, signs of hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as "cave disease", which is caused by bat and bird droppings and can be fatal if untreated and allowed to spread to other parts of the body.

Thai authorities said the first four rescued Sunday have been kept in quarantine until the risk of infection subsides.

The rescue operation began over the weekend, and four boys and the coach still remain in the cave complex.

"If everything goes right, we will see four kids and a doctor and Seals that have stayed with the kids will all come out", the governor said.

Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which took up to 11 hours.

Meanwhile, a letter of apology from the coach of the football team was delivered to the boys' parents via the cave divers. "And we have more expertise than yesterday", he said. "Cave diving requires a lot of training, and it's still risky even for the best cave divers". It ended with their fighting cheer, adopted from the U.S. Navy: "Hooyah!"

They were celebrating a second triumph after divers guided four more boys through tight passages and flooded caverns to safety Monday.

"This morning, they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao", he said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil, and served over rice.

They are then taken to hospital in Chiang Rai. Since then, an global team of engineers, rescuers and divers has been delivering supplies and food to the children and their coach ― and mulling ways to best help them escape. A massive worldwide search operation was launched and it took 10 days to locate the boys, who had taken shelter on a dry slope, deep in the complex. It is not immediately clear how the rains had affected levels inside the cave.

Extracting everyone could take up to four days, but the initial success has raised hopes that could be done.

The distance from where the crew is trapped to the main entrance is about a half a mile, and the boys had to travel most of that distance underwater to reach freedom.

Monday's mission involved 18 divers from Thailand and overseas. "We believe that we can do even better and it will be a 100 percent success", he said. They were missing for nine days before being discovered by British divers last week. Last week, a former Thai navy diver died while preparing for the operation.

There were several concerns that prompted authorities to move forward with the plan to dive the boys out.

More worrying, however, oxygen levels in the chamber where the boys sought refuge were falling.

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