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LIVE Updates: Teenager Football Team Trapped in Thai Cave

CityNews – A group of teenagers along with their football coach have become trapped inside Tham Luang cave since Saturday 23rd June, in the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Nong forest reserve, Chiang Rai, after floodwaters trapped their only exit.

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The group of 12, made up of 11 young teenagers aged 13-16 years and an adult coach aged 25, entered the cave on Saturday afternoon. Some reports suggested 12 young teens but officials have released a list of those missing, confirming it as 11 teenagers and one coach, although some sources still quote 13.

The Governor of Chiang Rai posted a statement regarding the missing teenagers and their coach. The statement confirmed 11 male teenage football players one 1 male coach. Their names are: Eakkapon Chanwong (25 – the coach), Adul Samon (age not verified), Prajak Sutham (14), Nuttawut Takamsong (14), Pipat Pothi (14), Panumat Sangdee (13), Duangpetch Promthep (13), Chanin Wiboonrungrueng (11), Eakkarat Wongsukchan (14), Ponchai Kumluang (16), Peerapat Sompiangjai (16) and Songpong Jaiwong (13).

The 13th teenager listed on some sites is Mongkol Boonbiam (13), but it is currently not clear if he is also in the cave or not due to conflicting sources.

UPDATE: As most news sources are still quoting 13, we must assume that all 13 people listed above are in the cave, and that the statement by the officials on day one must have contained an error. The 13th teenager’s name has now also appeared on official boards and lists.

As heavy rains began, the cave quickly flooded, blocking the main exit of the cave. The cave, which is over 15km in length, is usually open to tourists although only the first 3km are usually explored. Officials suggest that after the floodwater blocked their way out, the group had to venture deeper into the cave to find safety. Initial reports suggest the flood water is over 5m deep, mixed with a lot of mud and sand making it very difficult for the rescue teams to navigate.

Police were alerted after a local noticed bikes and shoes outside the cave entrance, but nobody had come out.

Rescue teams, the military, Navy SEALS, police and foreign volunteers have been working tirelessly since Saturday evening until today to find the group but at this time they have not been found.

Photo: Facebook user Kusuma Icesy Eiei

MONDAY 25th June 2018

Early morning, around 1am, a video interview with one of the rescue teams was posted. 41 year old Kumol Khunnghamkwamdee told Hot News Thailand reporters that he discovered footprints and hand prints of the children on the walls and floors of the cave, but have not yet found the missing group. He also told reporters that they had only made it 3km into the cave, a round trip that takes over 3 hours to complete.

Earlier reports mentioned authorities taking in a mobile phone receiver to allow the rescue teams to contact the outside world without having to come out. Radios do not work due to the flood water blocking signals.

At 5.20am Monday morning, Thairat reported that a team of cave explorers from the UK living in Thailand have joined the search and rescue efforts.

In the early hours of this morning, the military sent a team of navy SEALS from Chonburi to assist with the rescue efforts. The 17-strong team entered the cave in the early hours of Monday morning but have yet to find the missing group.

Captain Anant Surawan, the head of unconventional welfare, told the Bangkok Post that the waterways were narrow and have natural blockages due to the flood water. Other difficulties include murky water and strong currents.

Facebook user Rungrot Kongpiban has been posting live updates of the event. At 9am the user posted photos and videos of the Navy SEALS, updated at 9.35am Monday morning to say that four SEALS entered the cave with water, food and tools but have yet to find the children. The user also mentioned that due to heavy rain again this morning, the flood water has risen from 5m to 7m.

Photo: Facebook user Rungrot Kongpiban

According to the Navy SEALS Facebook page, the team managed to make it 7km into the cave before reaching a dead end made by natural debris. 1km away from this point is a large cave room that is believed not to be flooded and the SEALS are currently setting up another dive to access that area.

Translated diagram taken from Thairat News

At 10.45am Monday morning, Mae Sai Police posted on their Facebook page that the rescue teams have found more evidence of the missing group inside the cave, but have yet to find the group in person.

At 11.25am Monday morning, a team of Navy SEALS exited the cave. They told authorities that they managed to find a way into the large cave room that was not flooded but sadly were unable to find the group. However, even more evidence that the group passed this area was discovered so the search will continue, deeper into the cave.

Photo: Facebook page Thai NavySEAL

At 12.30pm Monday, the Thai Navy SEALS posted a photo of two divers preparing to head into the next area of the cave through 5m deep water. The next area is said to have another large room that may not be flooded and may be where the group is located.

At 3pm Monday, authorities have not yet found the missing group but have said that the air inside the cave is still breathable.

At 3.45pm Monday, Thai PBS shares news that resuce teams have found a way into the cave on the mountain top and are currently surveying the entrance as a possible rescue route. In the meantime, they have thrown packages of food and water down the opening along with a note telling the group to stay put as rescue is on the way.

At 4pm Monday, Thai Navy SEALS announce that although the rain has reduced to a drizzle, the flood water inside the cave is still rising. They have not yet found the group.

Photo: Facebook user Rungrot Kongpiban

At 4.30pm Monday, Deputy Governor of Chiang Rai spoke to the press explaining the current situation. When asked whether they have been able to find the teenagers and coach, he responded “not yet, but we have not reached the end of the cave.” He said that there is at least another 2km of cave that has yet to be explored by rescue teams, Thai Navy SEALS and foreign volunteers. When asked if he believes the group are still alive, he replies by saying “Yes, I do. There are no signs of anything bad so far so we must believe they are still alive.”

At 5.20pm Monday, it has been reported that a mobile phone belonging to one of the teenagers was found, suggesting rescue teams are getting closer.

Photo of the mobile phone, bag and football boots found by rescue workers

At 9.15pm Monday, a group of Thai rescue divers who were trained in Italy have brought breathing equipment and extra diving equipment made for children to support the cause. Heavy rain has caused the water to rise even further, in some places reaching the ceiling of the cave.

At 11.30pm Monday, Navy SEALS have exited the cave and will prepare to re-enter around sunrise. During this time, authorities are using water pumps in a bid to remove out as much water from the caves as possible, or at least keep the water from rising. CityNews will bring further updates tomorrow morning.

TUESDAY 26th June 2018

At 5am Tuesday, officials from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Region 15 began pumping water out of the cave using pumps that can displace 50,000 litres of water every minute according to Sky Thai News.

Photo: Facebook page Sky Thai News

At 7.30am Tuesday, Thai Navy SEALS re-entered the cave for another attempt at finding the missing group now the water has reduced slightly. They believe that the group may be located at the ‘Pattaya Beach’ area of the cave in a main hall near the end of the cave, roughly 5km from the cave entrance.

At 8.55am Tuesday, a Disaster Rescue Team from King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok arrived at the cave to offer assistance. The university sent 13 officers and a ROV dive robot with a radar attachment and infrared camera. A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft has also joined the search, with teams looking towards finding entrances from the mountain top.

At 10.30am Tuesday, a team of Thai Navy SEALS venture into the jungle above the caves to look for shafts or ‘chimneys’ that may work as secondary access or communication routes.

At around 11am Tuesday, family members of the missing teens and coach who have been camping at the mouth of the cave ever since the search began, performed a ceremony asking the spirits of the cave to help return their children safe and sound. They used fishing nets to symbolise catching things that are lost and offered flowers and incense.

POLICE have issued a warning to the public NOT to donate any money to bank accounts shared alongside photos of the rescue operation as the authorities have not asked for any donation and they cannot verify the validity of the bank accounts provided. 

At 11.45am Tuesday, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Region 15 increased the number of water pumps to six in order to remove flood water even faster.

A small group of rescue workers catching some sleep after hours of non-stop search and rescue efforts.
Photo: Wilai Thawinthai

At around 4pm Tuesday, reports that the 17 infantry 3rd regiment from Phayo have joined in the rescue operation, sending over 1,000 military soldiers to assist in any way possible and support search and rescue efforts from outside the cave. The army also provided another 34 tanks of air for divers.

At 4.50pm Tuesday, army officers discovered an opening on the mountain that potentially leads into the south end of the cave, near the area where authorities believe the trapped group to be.

At this time, the group of young teenagers and their coach have been trapped in the cave for 72 hours, and authorities have yet to find them in person.

At 6.30pm Tuesday, a group of monks from a Mae Sai temple scaled the mountain and conduced a ceremony asking the spirits of the forest to guide rescue workers to a potential second exit or to help make it possible for the rescue to succeed.

Photo: สะป๊ะเชียงราย

At 9.25pm Tuesday, Mae Sai police report that floodwaters are just 150m away from the 3rd big cave hall, the area where authorities have set up a operation centre from within the cave.

At 11.30pm Tuesday, flooding increased, with some areas completely submerged in water.

A map explaining the route as of Monday night published on the cover of the Bangkok Post today (Tuesday).

WEDNESDAY 27th June 2018

At 4.45am Wednesday, rescue teams were forced to relocate their main base of operations inside the cave located in the 3rd big cave hall, to the 2nd big cave hall (closer to the entrance of the cave) as the 3rd big hall became totally flooded. According to Thai NavySEAL, floodwaters are rising at 6 inches per hour at this time.

At 7.30am Wednesday, Jonathon Head from the BBC reports that due to heavy rainfall, rescue is becoming increasingly difficult. He also reports that the larger water pumps are not working right now, and the water is still rising.

At 9.45am Wednesday, the Thai army take in another large pump pipe into the cave to try and pump out the water. Reports suggest another 5 heavy duty pumps are being delivered from Bangkok at this time. Chiang Mai has sent an extra 75 infantry men to help in the efforts, 14 border patrol guards have been sent to help and an extra MI-17 helicopter has been provided by the Army. The Royal Irrigation Department has sent an extra 10 large pumps and Ayutthaya Irrigation has sent 2 high pressure water pumps to help accelerate the pumping of floodwater. Many of these pumps are pumping water from out of a nearby lake where the overflow of floodwater from the cave flows into, in the hope that the displacement of water will encourage more water to leave the cave. However, heavy rainfall still proves to be a serious issue that is hampering the rescue.

At 10am Wednesday, BBC Thai reported that a team of three from Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (UK) are flying out in support of the Thai Government and help with the rescue. They will be bringing 4 Heyphones – a specialist cave radio system that can transmit hundreds of meters through solid rock – and diving equipment relayed by the British Police.

The teenagers and their coach have now been stuck inside the cave for 90 hours.

According to a report by Chiang Mai One, a former village headman in the area of Tham Luang said that in 1974, a group of foreigners had been stuck in the same cave for seven days.

A map by TNAMCOT that shows the flooding right now, with the blue marker showing where the group is expected to be located.

At 11am Wednesday, a photo was shared by Sky Thai News of authorities lifting life saving equipment and resources from the back of a truck that could not get to the cave entrance because the road was fully blocked by other veichles. Despite the Traffic Police closing the road and creating a one way system, while also banning anyone who is not directly involved in the rescue from entering (in order to reduce traffic and random people who just want to observe), many cars have been left on the road blocking the way for rescue vehicles.

At 12am Wednesday, authorities said that the hole discovered on the mountain above the cave (above the Pattaya Beach section of the cave) was only 5 metres deep before it became too small and mostly blocked, meaning that it could not be used as a rescue or communication route.

At 1.16pm Wednesday, Thai NavySEAL reported that every section of the cave is filling with water, with floodwater seeping in from the ceiling of the cave, increasing the urgency of the mission. However, the pumps are now working which will drain a large capacity of water over the next few hours.

At 2pm Wednesday, Maj, Gen, Chalermchai Sitisat, the Army Commander on the ground at Tham Luang, told the press that he has ordered another company of troops from Special Combat Unit 5 to join the search and rescue efforts. He also said he is confident that they will find the missing group but the main problem they are facing now is the constant increase of water inside the caves caused by another very heavy downpour early this afternoon.

At 6.30pm Wednesday, the team from the UK arrived in Thailand ready to help the 13 stuck in the cave.

At 6.45pm Wednesday, the official Facebook page of the Thai Navy SEALS announces that any news suggesting that the rescue workers have found the missing teenagers and coach are FAKE NEWS and as of this time, the group has yet to be found. The added that until the water reduces in depth in the cave, they diving teams must halt operation for safety reasons.

At 7.15pm Wednesday, reports from MCOT say that the land around the cave is now full of saturated clay, making the extraction of water even more difficult, along with making it harder for rescue teams and vehicles to move around. However, in more positive news, the water that was once up to the ceiling of much of the cave has now dropped by roughly 30cm thanks to the water pumping effort. The water inside the cave is very brown, and impossible to see through, so Navy SEALS are struggling to make it any further into the cave at this point. The route to the next area is also very narrow now due to natural debris, requiring divers to have smaller gas tanks to fit through, resulting in much less time allowed underwater.

 

Map of the cave. The left most circle is where they think the group is.

 

At 8.14pm Wednesday, MCOT reported that the one of the divers in the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (UK) is recognised as the best cave diver in the entire world. At the same time, 13 individual ambulances and medical teams were put on standby at the cave entrance in the possibility of finding the group this evening.

At 11.35pm Wednesday, MCOT shared posts from a 13-strong cave rescue team from the Philippines allegedly claim they are having problems with visas to enter Thailand and are currently being refused due to lack of certificates and paperwork.

At 11.45pm Wednesday, another team of rescue divers enter the cave along with support from the Cave Rescue Team from the United Kingdom.

THURSDAY 28th June 2018

At 5am Thursday, a Siam Ruamjai rescue vehicle parked at the site was broken into and the belongings of the two paramedics were stolen. The robbery was reported to the Mae Sai Police Station.

At 7am Thursday, both the Thai Navy SEALS and dive rescue teams have pulled out of the cave as a night of non-stop heavy rainfall causing the cave to almost completely fill with water. Water pumps have also been turned off due to safety reasons and because they failed to combat the rising water levels. At 9am this morning a meeting will be held to discuss a new course of action. Correction: The order to pull out of the cave came at between 2am and 3am this morning, not at 7am.

At 7.40am Thursday, news sources confirmed that a heat source photo image of inside the cave is NOT of the missing teenagers and coach but a trial image from another part of the cage. Authorities have yet to find the group.

At 8.15am ThursdayWorkpoint News interviewed one of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (UK) team members (name not mentioned) who said that although they assuming they turned left at the junction as that is the main path, they could have just as easily turned right towards ‘Monk’s Series’ which is just 1.5km from the junction to a large open chamber.

At 10.23am Thursday, Khaosod English publish an article mentioning the young female statue at the entrance of the cave known as Jao Mae Nang Non, who’s spirit is said to linger in the cave. her presence has led to a handful of spiritual explanations for the disappearance of the boys along with stories that she is guarding the cave. One woman who left offerings at the Jao Mae told Khaosod that she didn’t know what upset the spirit but she wanted to make an offering to please her. Read the full story here. 

At 10.30am Thursday, The United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) search and rescue team has arrived at Tham Luang to help in the search. A statement by the United States Embassy Media and Culture Office Thailand stated that “The United States is particularly concerned about the missing teen footballers and their coach in the Tham Luang cave, Northern Thailand. The US Pacific Command (USPACOM) has sent search and rescue teams to help find the missing persons upon the Thai Government’s request.”

At 11.40am Thursday, Maj. Gen. Virachai Songmetta, Deputy Chief of Staff, announced he would lead a rescue squad of 132 personnel to search areas outside the cave in the hope of finding another hole or entry point into the cave. A number of sniffer dogs will also join the search.

At 1.30pm Thursday, the rain has stopped and then sun is out and the first signs of water evaporation are being noticed. This is a good sign for rescue teams.

At 3pm Thursday, the team of British cave search and rescue workers exited the cave, still unable to reach the missing 13. They have told the press that due to the thick, saturated water and strong currents, it was too dangerous to proceed any further at this time. There are several media reports that a potential entrance to the area that the group is expected to be has been found on the mountain top. National media have referred to this as the ‘Martin Chimney’ (possibly after the person who found it) and some reports claim that teams are planning to bore through this area to access the Pattaya Beach section of the cave. CityNews cannot confirm this claim as an official mentioned yesterday that there was no way to drill into the cave at that time.

At 6pm Thursday, the rain began falling hard again, again hampering rescue efforts as the cave began to flood again.

At 7.30pm Thursday, reports have been confirmed that the rescue team are trying to dig into the cave through the wall, although it appears to be a different location to that of ‘Martin’s Chimney’. The rain has stopped and the digging has begun. According to MCOT, the digging is not to get to the missing 13 but to be able to put in new water pumps that will help pump the water out of the cave at a much faster rate.

The teenagers and their coach have now been stuck inside the cave for 124 hours.

During the afternoon of Thursday, Kruba Ariyachat Phrakejituto (ครูบาอริยชาติ อริยจิตฺโต) from Saeng Kaew Photiyan Temple in Mae Suai (วัดแสงแก้วโพธิญาณ อ.แม่สรวย) traveled to the cave to perform a ceremony to ask the gods to clear the sky of rain to help rescue teams get to the missing boys and their coach.

At 10.30pm Thursday, five more large scale water pumps were put into the cave in order to pump more water out of the are between the entrance and the 2nd large cave hall.

At 11pm Thursday, Thai Navy SEALS told the press that they hoped that the water continued to go down, despite the continual downpour from the skies. A photo was shared by Rungrot Kongpiban that shows a makeshift depth measure with a rescue worker pointing at the current depth of the water, which is up to his waist.

FRIDAY 29th June 2018

At 2am Friday, a Facebook user by the name of Kachamas Yungtikul posted a video showing the challenges that the drilling has faced from the authorities. The video shows one of the rescue team managers being questioned by Royal Thai Police deputy commissioner Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul on whether they had asked permission or been granted permission for drilling into the cave by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife Plant Conservation yet. It is interesting to note that this is the same police officer who also dropped all the charges against Premchai Karnasuta in the black panther hunting case earlier this year. It is unclear whether this police officer has authority over this matter or is just issuing a warning.

At 5am Friday, The Bangkok Post publishes a detailed article describing the new plans put in place by the team of British cave search and rescue divers. The new plans look at turning right at the cross roads, rather than left, in order to either find the boys who may have headed towards an area called Monk’s Series rather than the exit as they were lost.

The article states that “Pol Gen Wirachai said residents told him there is a chamber lying in the north of the cave. It is as high as 60 metres and 20 metres wide. This location has become a new focal point of attention because a cave chamber may have a ceiling crevice.”

The report also mentioned that the drilling into the side of the cave is still under way, following electromagnetic waves that examined the rock structures, and will take roughly a day to bore through 100m to reach the inside. Once a pathway has been made, they will put glow sticks and recording devices to explore the inside of the cave.

At 10.15am Friday, Prayuth Chan-ocha arrived on scene to show his support and concern about the missing boys.

Photo: Thai PBS

At 10.30am Friday, the Governor of Chiang Rai, Narongsak Osottanakorn said that the US and UK teams are currently working on a plan with the local rescue workers and authorities and although he cannot comment on which plan will be used, there are four main choices they have right now.

  1. Enter the cave through the main cave entrance, and increase the pumping of water out of the cave to reduce the water levels. This morning 40 more water pumps were sent from Bangkok to help.
  2. Bore through one of the more promising chimneys. One chimney, or shaft will be scanned today. In addition to this, scans will be made towards the Monk’s Series area (right at the t-junction) and if any evidence of the missing group is found a team will go that way to find them.
  3. ‘Bomb the water’ to help reduce the water levels. (it is unclear if this is an industry term or a literal bombing of the water to displace it and create a crater that water can flow into)
  4. Scan into the cave using a Cave Wall Scanner. The theory is that they will be able to see into the cave and locate the missing group but careful plans must be made as the machinery is 2 tonnes in weight and cannot be easily moved.

At 11am Friday, Commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police Pol.Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta, the border patrol police and the paratrooper unit of the military have returned to a shaft that may lead to the inside of the cave. Yesterday the first 22m was explored and it was discovered to be a straight passage that stops at an L shaped corner. It is located directly above the largest chamber on the right side of the cave (near Monk’s Series) which is 60m in height. According to cave data, the chamber is 560m above sea level and this shaft entrance has been found at 620m above sea level, leaving a 60m difference. The remaining 30+ metres of the shaft is expected to be explored today.

Photo: @TRS1255
Map of the left side of the cave after the junction.

At 11.30am Friday, reports of another vehicle being broken into emerge. The vehicle was an emergency vehicle from Lampang, and the robbers took off with two radios and a few other belongings.

At 12pm Friday, The Provincial Electricity Authority arrived with more waterproof power lines to take into the cave to power water pumps and lighting. At the same time, another rain cloud is seen over the mountains and more rain is expected to fall soon.

At 2.55pm Friday, emergency crews rushed to the cave after reports that at least two rescue workers have been electrocuted by an electrical wire inside the cave. Information is scant as the electrocution just happened but we have had reports that the power has now been temporarily turned off.

At 3pm Friday, officers have evaluated the shaft above the right hand side of the cave near the Monk’s Series, and have discovered a passage way all the way through to the large 60m chamber that is large enough to be fitted with safety ropes and for people to get through. Officials have filled 20 Tupperware boxes with food, water and a mobile phone along with a message that says to send contact immediately if found. These boxes will be dropped into any shafts or chimneys that are believed to reach the cave, both to the right and to the left of the t-junction 3km inside the cave.

At 3.30pm Friday, a rescue team from Beijing, China, (Beijing Peaceland) along with the Acting Consul General of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China arrived at Chiang Mai International Airport, and will now head to Chiang Rai to join the rescue efforts. The team have brought along a diving robot, a 3D scanner and a number of other life-saving equipment. Beijing Peaceland have had experience with cave rescues in Myanmar, Nepal and many other countries, including helping with the Chilean mining accident of 2010.

At 4.30pm Friday, Chiang Rai Governor Naronsak Osottanakorn denied reports that a number of rescue workers were electrocuted in the cave, but has claimed that only one rescue volunteer simply fainted inside the cave and was taken to hospital as a precaution. He said that the man was from Ubon Ratchathani and is in a safe condition.

At this time no new updates are forthcoming, apart from rescue teams from Thailand, UK, US, China are continuing their efforts.

SATURDAY 30th June 2018

At 4am Saturday, 4 pipes were put through the newly drilled hole in the side of the cave and are pumping water out at a good speed. At this time there is no rain at the location, which is a positive sign that water levels will begin to decrease.

At 7am Saturday, the 13 ambulances and accompanying medical teams conduced a practice run for saving the missing 13 from the cave. Each person trapped in the cave will be given one ambulance and one dedicated team once rescued.

At 12pm Saturday, Thai Navy SEALS and the Army successfully installed more water pumps in the 3rd large chamber, significantly resducing water levels inside the cave. They are now planning on setting up rope systems that rescue workers can use to guide themselves through the cave towards the t-junction and deeper into the cave.

At 6pm Saturday, a large group of divers, including international teams and volunteers, began entering the cave to support the Thai Navy SEALS as they move closer to Pattaya Beach – the area where the group is though to be.

Thairat TV share a clear map of the cave and where teams have got to so far. Between chamber 2 and 3 is where the Thai Navy SEALS have reached so far, and Pattaya Beach is after chamber 3. Drill teams are also drilling from the top above where they think the group is, and another drill team is accessing Monk’s Series (to the right at the t-junction) just in case they are there too.

At around 7pm Saturday, Chiang Rai Governor tells the press that “Today the situation is much better and we have high hopes, and we will be here all night.”

At 8.20pm Saturday, Kruba Mettatham from Wat Pa Naruemit Tham Mungkorn Tong, Nakorn Ratchasima, joined the growing number of spiritual leaders to perform a rain stopping ceremony.

At 9pm Saturday, MCOT share a diagram of the pathway into the northern side of the cave (Monk’s Series) clearly displaying the access route emergency teams are currently navigating.

At 9.40pm Saturday, the authorities announced they need at least another 200 air tanks for divers to keep up the search without delay.

At 11pm Saturday, it was reported that the Thai Navy SEALS managed to set up rope guides over just 200m as the water level increased once again, hampering their efforts.

SUNDAY 1st July 2018

At 1.15am Sunday, a drilling team managed to drill down 50m into the ground to find water, and have added 2 pipes into the water they found that pumps out 100 cubic metres per hour.

At 3am Sunday, Thai Navy SEALS increase their efforts to take gas tanks into the cave and set up a new ‘command point’ from within the cave now the floodwaters have reduced somewhat.

At 3.30am Sunday, Mai Sai’s Provincial Electrical Authority set up a repeater at the mouth of the cave that will assist in bringing signal into the cave and relay messages coming out of the cave through the makeshift signal system installed for the rescue teams.

At 10am Sunday, a report from Khasod English claims that the Department of Groundwater Resources said that after drilling for two days, they found and underwater water source near the cave. They plan to pump water directly out of the water source to prevent it from entering the cave.

At 10.30am Sunday, reports confirm a team of Australians are on their way to help with the rescue. The Australian Federal Police are sending six AFP Specialist Response team members to Chiang Rai via a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 transport plane. In an Australian news report published today, coordinator of the US National Cave Rescue Commission claimed that young athletic boys could easily live for a month or a month and a half in the cave, but concerns surround their access to water that maybe ‘clean’ but also contaminated by chemical runoff from nearby farms. One of the biggest challenges could be mental resolve, because they don’t know when they might get recused.

At 10.37am Sunday, Chiang Rai governor speaks on a microphone and tells those listening that they must not forget to make plans for after care once the missing 13 are found. Where will they be treated, for how long and who will manage that are all points he raised. He said that King Rama X has provided rechargeable LED lights to all cave rescue teams. He also added that the new plan is to place air tanks every 25m from the t-junction to the 3rd large chamber in preparation for when the group is found and brought out. He clarified that the area they believe the group to be in, known as Pattaya Beach, is 3km deeper into the cave from the 3rd chamber.

At 12pm Sunday, Workpoint News published a statement from Police Lt. Gen. Sommai Kongwisaisuk, the police commissioner for narcotics control, urging the press and the public not to believe rumours that the boys have caught up with drug traffickers inside the cave and that they may have been captured or hurt by supposed drug gangs. He admits that there is routes in the areas near the cave that have been found to be used in drug trafficking, but insists that this case is unrelated to drug smugglers and the boys are simply trapped inside the cave due to flood water blocking their way out.

According to an article by Chiang Mai News, a group of masseuses from Koh Chang village, Mae Sai, have set up a free station, giving herbal, Thai and foot massages to volunteers and military personnel who are working in the cave.

At 6.30pm Sunday, Thai Navy SEALS managed to get a further 600m into the cave towards Pattaya Beach, the furthest so far. This time the SEALS, along with rescue teams and foreign teams including teams from the US, UK, China and Australia, are taking a more methodological approach, placing spare air tanks ever 25m and setting up a permanent rope guide system.

According to a Khaosod English article, rescue divers cleared a key hurdle by pushing through the murky waters past the 3d large chamber, moving towards Pattaya Beach. The passageway is over 1km long and there is still some way to go before authorities make it to the other side where the group is expected to be.

Photo: Thairat

At 6.50pm Sunday, Wing 41 helicopters return to the ground after carrying digging equipment onto the mountain where teams are working at digging through into the cave from above. According to Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn,“We surveyed all areas and there were reported to be about 20, and out of that there are about 10 with the possibility of having shafts. But at the moment, we have narrowed it down to two. Today we are working inside those two shafts.”

At 9.30pm Sunday, another 351 bottles of air were delivered to the cave, giving rescue teams a total of 415 bottles that are currently usable.

According to an article posted by Thai PBS at 10.19pm Sunday, Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church told a congregation at a religious ceremony held at St. Peter’s Basilica that he has prayed for the 12 missing teens and their coach who have been stuck in the Thai cave for over a week.

At 11pm Sunday, Facebook page Digitalay posted a request that any strong divers come to the cave and help with the rescue efforts. They allege that the Thai Navy SEALS are looking for divers of instructor level or above to help transport essential diving and rescue equipment to the 3rd large chamber where Thai Navy SEALS are using as a base. Diver need not be cave diving trained, but must be able to dive in cramped, difficult conditions without panicking and be able to hike up a steep slope with the supplies (20-30kg) for a few hundred metres. Anyone who thinks they are qualified, please contact K Top on 0875027414. UPDATE at 2am: The team has 10 more volunteers now so they are not taking any more volunteers at this time – if they need more, another announcement will be made.

Map showing what volunteers need to do posted by Digitalay.

 

Monday 2nd July 2018

The teenagers and their coach have now been stuck inside the cave for roughly 220 hours.

At 8am Monday, it was reported that the Thai Navy SEALS have navigated another 400m into the cave.

According to Thai PBS, the ongoing rescue operation is now the biggest of its kind ever launched in Thailand. The article lists all the international support in the rescue, including Japanese irrigation experts, Australian divers, 17 rescuers from Beijing Peaceland (China), cave divers from the UK, and a team from America known as USOACOM.

At 11am Monday, the Governor of Chiang Rai released a statement saying that the current efforts are going well and the rescue teams are making good progress towards Pattaya Beach. He said if the rain holds off as ithas done all morning, then rescue times may speed up a little. The Thai Navy SEALS have reached the t-junction in the cave and are taking a left turn towards Pattaya Beach. The cave now has access to telephone wires, electricity wires, rope guidelines and over 200 air tanks. Today, volunteers will help take in another 300 air tanks. The governor added that the next step is the most difficult and critical step, as the pathway to Pattaya Beach is very deep and very tight, as is the only way to get there. He added that teams will also explore the right hand side of the t-junction, and despite it being very difficult traverse and unlikely the group is in there, teams will be sent for a precaution following advice from a group of rescue experts. In addition to continuing the search inside the cave, teams are focusing on two of 10 shafts or ‘chimneys’ that potentially reach the main cave, one as deep as 200m and another at 60m.

At 2.40pm Monday, Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital released photos of a ward that is reserved for the missing 13, stating that they are 100% prepared, with all equipment ready to go and a team of nurses and doctors on call.

Photo: Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital

Today, Monday 2nd July, HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn sent his representative to give a gift of diving suits, black bags, sags, ziplock bag, kettles, extension cords, and blankets. On the same day, the governor of Chiang Rai also received money from Princess Chulabhorn’s personal funds to help pay for food and other supplies.

10.50pm Monday 2nd July, the governor of Chiang Rai confirmed that SEAL team has found the football team, all 13 of them near the Pattaya Beach as suspected. The governor stated that the team will pursue a rescuing plan. News is scant on how the next steps will play out but they are alive and as we get information of the rescue we will update here.

UPDATES: The boys were found 400m beyond Pattaya Beach. They are all alive but their conditions are unknown. Authorities say that the 13 are safe for now but the next challenge is to bring them out of the cave. Thai Navy SEALS are now bringing in doctors and medical supplies into the cave, and the boys must be first deemed fit enough to make their way out of the cave.

Live TV reports are showing Thai Navy SEALS cheering in unison as they celebrate the news.

One of the mothers has just showed Live TV reporters the first photo of the boys in the cave, smiling with torches. UPDATE: The photo is an OLD photo that one of the mothers shared with the TV station, but is not a photo from the teens now. We apologise for the misinformation.

Photo: Thai PBS

11pm Tuesday, Chiang Rai Governor spoke to the press, outlining the next steps. Now, medical staff are on their way to their location to check their health status. Food and other supplies will also be taken into the cave but it is expected that the teens will not be able to eat or digest food without complications, and may have to refrain from eating until they are at hospital. He also added that although the 13 are found safe and alive, the rescue efforts are far from over, and getting them out is now the main priority. He also thanked all teams, including Thai Navy SEALS, volunteers and foreign assistance in helping find the missing 13.

11.10pm Monday, General Booncha Duriyaphan, Army Chief of Staff 37th squadron, has said that they will not be taking the teens out of the cave tonight, but will continue to work hard in making it safe for the group to leave the cave.

11.42pm Monday, Thai PBS Live updated that once the teens and their coach leave the cave, they will be taken by helicopter or ambulance to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, depending on their health status.

11.49pm Monday, Workpoint News release a map showing where exactly the boys were found. The yellow X marks where they were found, 400m beyond Pattaya Beach.

 

TUESDAY 3rd July 2018

12am Tuesday, Medical teams are still on their way to the group, and will check their health – including muscles, eyes, digestive system and blood – before any decisions will be made on how to safely bring them out of the cave. Several parts of the path out of the cave are still flooded, so the teens may need to learn how to use an air tank and regulator before they can leave the cave.

12.02am Tuesday, Associate Professor Jessada Denduangboripant from Chulalongkorn University has shared photos that he claims are photos of the boys in the cave, taken once they were discovered. He said that the photos are confirmed by one of the boy’s family. CityNews is currently trying to verify the photos. We can now confirm that the photos are stills from the video footage taken by the British diving team who found them.

12.20am Tuesday, according to rescue teams, the boys moved away from Pattaya Beach to seek refuge on soft, warm soil and dirt which is a lot warmer than stone.

1.20am Tuesday, Dr. Pak Lohanchun gets to the group inside the cave. He is a fully qualified doctor who has also trained with the Army, Navy and Air Force and is currently a Navy SEAL. Reports say he asked the boys how they survived, and they replied that they tried to stay put and waited for clean water to fall from the ceiling.

1.55am Tuesday, Thai NavySEAL Facebook page shared a video taken by the first rescue divers to encounter the missing group. It appears that two members of the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation (UK) part of the British Cave Rescue Council, Richard Williams Stanton and John Volanthen, were first on the scene, speaking English with the boys. The video shows the boys exclaiming with panicked joy the words ‘thank you’ after realising the divers were not Thai. The British divers ask “how many of you?” and they reply “thirteen”. The divers can be heard saying “brilliant” in response. The boys who were clearly hungry asked what day it was and asked for food. The divers told them they must wait for doctors, and other rescue services who were on their way.

At 5.25am Tuesday, reports from the cave confirmed that a Thai Navy SEAL medical team had reached the trapped 13. The team included a rehabilitation nurse, a doctor and nine other qualified Navy SEALS. Another 27 rescue team members are on their way to the boys too, and are working out a system to send supplies.

At 10am Tuesday, Mae Sai Police have confirmed with Khaosod English that they are looking into whether to charge the 25-year-old coach who has also been stuck in the cave with malpractice for putting the lives of the boys in danger. Col. Komsan Saard-an, chief of Mae Sai Police Station, declined to confirm or rule out charges of negligence against coach Ekapol “Aek” Chanthawong.

At 10.30am Tuesday, we learn that

  • The military have begun sending in supplies, including high-protein gel food and water to last up to four months.
  • The boys, who don’t know how to swim, will need to learn how to dive or wait for the water to subside.
  • Medical teams report that the boys have only suffered ‘light’ injuries. “We categorised their health condition as red, yellow or green, red being the most severe injuries, yellow being mild and green being light. Yesterday, unofficially, we assessed that most are in the green category,” said Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn.
  • Any attempts to move the boys while flood water remains high could be very dangerous.

At 10.45am Tuesday, we hear from German press that officials are installing phone cables in the cave so parents can talk with their children who will not be brought out today.

At 11am Tuesday, the army has confirmed that it could take months before the boys can get out of the cave. They also told reporters that flood waters were once again rising, making it harder for rescue teams to get to them, although they insist that the boys will be fine as they are now with medical staff and Navy SEALS.

On Tuesday afternoon, The Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn released a statement saying that none of the 13 are seriously ill. In his statement he gave credit to the three British rescue divers who were the first to locate the missing group, identified as world-renowned cave divers John Volanthen, Richard Stanton and Robert Harper. An update from the ‘unofficial’ status of the boys was also given, with the governor saying that most of the boys are in the green, but a few are now in the yellow. Rescue teams have brought them power gel, minerals, penicillin and paracetamol.

Tuesday, Ben Reymenants, a volunteer helping the rescue effort, tells BBC Newsnight that the temperature is about 26 degrees inside the cave, but authorities are expecting heavy rains in the next three days which may cause more flooding and make access impossible. He said that two Navy SEAL medical officers have sacrificed themselves to stay with the boys inside the cave for the next two to three months if necessary.

At 4.30pm Tuesday, ABC News Correspondent James Longman posts a picture of a makeshift cafe, quoting “There is an espresso machine in the middle of the jungle. Thailand, I salute you.”

WEDNESDAY 4th July 2018

At 4.27am Wednesday, the Bangkok Post published an article that suggests the Tourism Authority Thailand plan to promote Tham Luang cave as a key attraction in Chiang Rai after the boys are rescued. They suggest that this announcement comes after speculation that the cave will attract a lot of tourists and visitors looking to see the cave in real life following this international rescue operation.

At 7.30am Wednesday, Thai Navy SEALS Facebook page shared a new video of the boys in the cave, wrapped in silver space blankets and being treated by medical staff. The boys can be seen waiing and saying thank you but the sound quality makes it hard to hear what they are saying. The video was filmed after they had just eaten, and with a caption that said “Every member of the Wild Boars team sends their greetings to the people who are waiting for them to get out of the cave.” New photos have also been released by MCOT.

Today, Wednesday, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement expressing its appreciation to the Thai and Foreign Rescue Teams at Tham Luang, Chiang Rai.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand wishes to join the Thai people in thanking the Thai and foreign rescue teams including experts from the Commonwealth of Australia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Japan, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America, among others, for successfully locating and finding the 13 members of the Moo Pa Academy Mae Sai football team and coach at Tham Luang Cave, Chiang Rai Province. We hope that all 13 lives and rescue teams will complete their mission and safely reunite with their families and loved ones as soon as possible.

The Thai people are deeply grateful for the concern and well wishes from the international community that have been communicated through many channels including media as well as private and public messages which have been an inspirational source of strength and moral support and contributed to the successful rescue of the Moo Pa Academy Mae Sai football team.”

In a press statement at 10am Wednesday, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said that now the boys have been found, more time can be spend on giving answers to press but he asks all to be respectful of boundaries and not to get in the way of rescue workers. He added that water drainage is crucial at this moment, as they need to ensure the water level is low enough for a rescue to be viable.

Wednesday, Infographic Thailand share evidence that suggests 1,600 rai of rice fields have been destroyed by flooding caused by pumping water out of the cave. There is 50 million bat already set aside for emergency flood relief and farmers expect to collect roughly 1,100 baht per rai once the operation is over.

At 10.27am Wednesday, The Nation published an article that quoted the two British divers explaining how it was luck that they found the boys when they did because their rope finished at exactly that spot, forcing them to surface in the cave. The said that if the rope was just 15m shorter, they would have turned back and the boys would have spent another night alone in the cave.

This Live Update Article has now concluded. 

For Further Updates on the Cave Rescue Operation Click Here.

 

Apologies if any news comes late as many sources have begun to stop posting due to complaints by the Army for exposing the faces of the Navy SEALS in photos of the rescue, which is a ‘threat to national security’.