Thanaporn Promthep, mother of one of the 12 missing boys, displays an image believed to have been taken in 2017 of her son Duangpetch Promthep, nicknamed "Dom" (pictured 2nd R-with light) and his football coach Ekkapol Chantawong (R), after hearing the news the group was found, near the Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district on July 2, 2018. LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/Getty Images
An elaborate plan to rescue a soccer team of 12 young boys and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand is taking shape.
The team has spent almost two weeks trapped underground in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave. They were found on Monday by Thai Navy SEALs and two British diving experts.
A military operation — called “Wild Boar” — has commenced to rescue the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach.
The rescue mission is tricky for numerous reasons. The pathway through the cave is almost completely flooded with water — and the water itself is thick with mud and impossible to see through. Some sections of the passageway are so narrow that divers can barely fit through with their oxygen tanks. Some of the boys do not know how to swim, let alone scuba dive.
A bulldozer clear out the surface of the drilling well site at the entrance of Tham Luang Nang Non cave to release water in the effort of lowering down the water level inside the cave on July 05, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Linh Pham/Getty Images
And rain is forecasted for the weekend, which could flood the caves even further. To avoid the flooding, the rescue team will likely take place within the next couple of days.
Rescuers hope that they will be able to drain the flooded cave passage enough that the boys will be able to walk out. So far, rescuers have pumped more than 32 million gallons of water out of the cave (about 40 percent of what’s inside), The Guardian reported.
The boys are also being taught swimming and basic scuba inside the cave. Rescuers hope that once the water levels are sufficiently low, the boys will be able to walk through the pathway and spend only brief moments of time underwater, according to The Guardian. The boys will follow a static rope, which has already been mounted in place, to the entrance of the cave. Each boy will have their own rescue diver, who will lead them to safety, or be passed from rescuer to rescuer like a relay.
Thai divers carry supplies as rescue operations continue for 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 5, 2018. YE AUNG THU/Getty Images
The boys will be dressed in wetsuits, boots and helmets. Their rescuers will likely help them carry oxygen tanks, with additional “stage tanks” installed for safety along the route.
If that plan fails, other rescuers are looking for alternate pathways into the cave. Thai officials are also considering mining a hole into the top of the cave and lifting the boys out.
Thai Navy SEALs are working on the rescue mission, according to The Washington Post. A doctor and a nurse joined the rescue team this week to provide food and medical attention to the boys and their coach. The doctor’s report on Thursday said that two of the boys and the coach are suffering exhaustion from malnutrition.