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Latest On Rescue Of Soccer Team Trapped In Flooded Cave in Thailand

Jul 3, 2018
Originally published on July 3, 2018 5:55 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's go now to northern Thailand. Reporter Michael Sullivan is in Chiang Rai, and he's joining us now via Skype. Hey there.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Hi.

KELLY: So you were just outside this cave hours ago, but paint me a picture of what the scene is like.

SULLIVAN: It seems fairly chaotic on the ground because it's been raining, as he said just before us. And it's very, very muddy, and that tends to muck things up a bit. But there's hundreds of journalists who are camped just outside the cave complex. We're not allowed to go inside. But the part that's very orderly is the part where you see the divers and the Thai officials who are trying to figure out just how to get these kids out now that they've been found.

KELLY: Let me ask you the most important question, which is, what do we know about how the boys and the coach are doing?

SULLIVAN: They seem to be doing pretty well. Officials said that the 13 are mostly in stable condition. And they've received some high-protein liquid food and some water after they were located last night. So they seem to be OK. But they are weak, and obviously they're going to have to get stronger before they figure out how they're going to try to get them out.

KELLY: So have they gotten solid food yet?

SULLIVAN: Not solid food yet, no.

KELLY: Not solid food, OK.

SULLIVAN: They're taking it slowly because they haven't had any food for nine days - 10 days now, right?

KELLY: And I'm wondering if it's freezing down there.

SULLIVAN: It's not. The cave complex inside - it's actually pretty warm inside.

KELLY: Well, that's good.

SULLIVAN: So that's a good thing.

KELLY: OK, so back to this question about how the heck to get them out. Explain the challenge and what's on the table.

SULLIVAN: Well, we heard a little about the challenge. I mean, these caves are very long, and obviously parts of the cave are still flooded. And there are more heavy rains expected in the next couple of days, and that could flood them more. So there seem to be two main scenarios - right? - for getting them out.

One is the long-term scenario, and that's to simply wait until the rainy season ends and bring them up then. But that could take months and doesn't seem real practical. The other one is that - and this is one raised by the interior minister today - that the boys may need to swim out using diving equipment before that bad weather hits and before that bad weather makes the cave flood even more.

KELLY: In other words, that they would need to be trained to scuba dive...

SULLIVAN: Very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

KELLY: ...While still trapped inside this cave, wow.

SULLIVAN: Yeah. I mean, they would need air. And what I think you'd probably see is you'd see these boys being taken down using a buddy system. Probably - they'd probably have a diver on either side of them holding onto them and making sure that they held on very firmly as they go down these guidelines that they've put in the caves to go to the end and get the children out.

KELLY: But the challenge again is that these caves are so narrow that there are some passages that the boys are going to have to swim on their own if this is to work.

SULLIVAN: I think so. But at the same time, I think they're also trying to widen those passages to make that likelihood less possible because they don't want these kids to freeze coming out and for them to block the way, right?

KELLY: So some structural work perhaps underway as well as all this unfolds.

SULLIVAN: Yeah. But the biggest problem right now is the rain. It's been pretty dry for the past two days.

KELLY: Right.

SULLIVAN: And that's been a good thing. That's what let the divers get in in the first place.

KELLY: Right.

SULLIVAN: But now the rains are going to come, and they're going to come hard. And that's going to be a problem.

KELLY: Michael Sullivan reporting there from Chiang Rai, thanks very much.

SULLIVAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.