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The young soccer players trapped inside a flooded Thai cave are being trained to use scuba equipment as part of a plan to extract the group before upcoming storms could leave the team stranded for several more months, according to a diver working with the rescue team.
None of the children know how to swim, but the skill isn’t necessary to use the scuba gear, Ruangrit Chankuanyuen said Thursday.
“We just need to train them to know how to use the equipment and how to breathe from the scuba equipment, either using the full face mask or using the regulator, so they don’t need to be a fully certified scuba diver,” he told TODAY.
Rescue team members have been monitoring the water levels inside the cave where the 12 young team members and their coach were discovered alive Monday. The group became trapped inside the intricate underground cave network after they went exploring on June 23 following a soccer practice.
Technicians have been pumping millions of gallons of waters out of the cave every day. But upcoming thunderstorms could ruin those efforts by bringing torrential rains that would flood out the caves. If that happens, rescuers potentially could leave the soccer team to wait for several more months before water levels recede again.
“I truly don’t think that is a viable option but it’s the worst case scenario,” Chankuanyuen said.
He said that additional flooding also would make it difficult for rescuers to continue supplying the stranded team with food, blankets and medical supplies they have received since being found Monday.
Rescue teams also have been looking for holes or shafts along the hilly grounds directly above the area where the team is trapped for spots where they could potentially drill into the cave. That would allow the children, whose ages range from 11 to 16, and their coach to be hoisted to safety instead of being forced to wade or float through 2.5 miles of flood waters and narrow passageways to the cave’s entrance.