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Thailand Cave: How the search unfolded



The 12 boys, members of the Wild Boars football team and their 25-year-old coach, had previously done research in the cave.

Popular with tourists, it is a place that the locals know well. For the first kilometer (600 yards) or so within the cavernous entrance, limestone cliffs encircle high ceilings, creating an almost amphitheater-like atmosphere.

Deeper inside, the passageways narrow in places that warn the locals that it's not safe.

For unknown reasons, the boys and their coachmen ventured deeper into the cave network, past signs warning people not to come in during the rainy season, which usually begins in July.

They moved ahead as the blankets fell and the paths contracted. They had covered three kilometers when they reached a fork in the corridor. On the left, a longer hike, but an exit point at the end.

To the right, higher up, but a chimney-like slide of rock jutting out of the mountain, the only way out.

They took off their backpacks and their shoes.

It started to rain outside.

  A pair of football boots stood at the entrance to the Tham Luang Nang Non Caves.

The boys between the ages of 11 and 16 and their coach have been missing for a week. Rescue services, working desperately to find them, have spent the last few days dumping scraps of food into the jungle-covered mountain in the hope that it will connect with the caves below.

Volunteers help to pump water from the cave entrance. US military search and rescue teams, along with British undersea cave experts, have responded to the request of the Thai government to help with the effort.

Thai Navy Seals with diving equipment have swum in the pitch-black corridors for about five kilometers to find the boys, and have returned without a feeling of where they might be. Of the missing boys it has not stolen all the time.

Their families are desperate.

"When I parked my bike in the cave (entrance), my tears fell," Pipat's father Pinyo Bhodi said. "I was desperate to find my son."

Families and friends have prayed in the vigils, which have coped with every day of fruitless search, made offerings and held on to the possibility of signs of life. Some who have suffered the torture of such a long, silent wait have collapsed in the mud from exhaustion and taken to the hospital.

"I feel that I just lost my heart when I found his bag, cell phone and shoes," said Prajak Sutham's father Sudsakorn, "but all I can do is wait."

The boys are close to each other and their coach, said Noppadon Kanthawong, a parent whose son plays on the team but who chose to skip the cave tour on Saturday] "He would be out there waiting for the kids After school, "he told CNN," It's a great way to stay healthy, away from the screens and friends. I can say that they are very close to each other, "said Noppadon.

Noppadon and his son huddled with other teammates at the entrance to the cave, waiting for every word from the Wild Boars team.

  Thai soldiers go out on Friday the entrance to the Tham Luang Nang Non Cave, June 29.

Meanwhile, the rain continued and prevented Helicopters were searching for possible hidden entrances, and drones sweeping the 10-kilometer-long route for heat signatures.

Even as workers pumped water and mud out of the cave, the rain persisted, complicating the effort Vernon Unsworth, a British speleologist and longtime resident of Chiang Rai, who has previously explored the cave, said CNN water is the biggest threat.

"Physically, it's not h arte cave, it's just very long and it has big passages, small passages, "he said. "It's not difficult, but if the children go in too far, the flood will come through from the other end, and it will not make it any easier with the rain."

He added that oxgyene levels in the cave would be dangerous if the airflow was overridden by rising water levels.

  Buddhist devotees pray at the entrance of Tham Luang Nang Non-Caves, hoping to find the boys alive.

On Friday, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited the rescue station, where about 840 soldiers, 90 members of a special force, four helicopters, excavators and a disaster were auxiliaries dedicated to the rescue operation

The Thai Energy Ministry said it would provide drills for an operation that focuses on creating cavities on the side of the mountain to try to locate the team. The Department of the Environment said it would donate x-ray equipment for scanning purposes.

On Friday morning, workers said that a narrow opening in the hills above the cave could be a potential entry point.

British cave experts entered the natural chimney on Friday morning and made it to a depth of about 20 meters (65 feet). Rescuers believe that topping in is a more promising option to reach tunnels, as they are not blocked by floods.

  The Thai officials are planning a map of the Tham Luang Nang Non Caves.

Water pumps, which were brought from the capital city of Bangkok and were used to alleviate major floods in the city, worked tirelessly to reduce the water level in the passages.

Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn told CNN that the heavy water pumps made a difference, but the rain continues to be a significant factor.

"We are in the rainy season, but the amount of rain is very unusual: it rained (June 27) from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am Our teams working in the cave had to retreat to the cave opening", he said. "We just can not fight with the water."

This is not the first time people have disappeared into the cave for a long time – and have survived.

  Thai soldiers launch electrical cables deep into the entrance to the Tham Luang Nang Non-Cave Network.
According to unconfirmed local news, a former village chief in the Tham Luang area said that in 1974 a group of foreign wanderers had been trapped in the same cave for seven days. The conditions were dry.

Narongsak was still confident that the boys and their coach would survive on them with so many elements after seven days.

"We have hope that they are alive," he said. "If you ask me if they are alive, I would say that we have hope."

Pipat Bhodi had his birthday last Sunday. His father Pinyo told CNN that the family had planned a surprise party for Pipat. A cake for the birthday child remains untouched.

"We need a miracle," Pipat's father Pinyo said. "I want him back."


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