Thailand cave rescue: The health toll of waiting for freedom

Divers make progress in search for 12 boys soccer coach in Thailand cave

Thailand cave rescue: The health toll of waiting for freedom

Divers reached the group on Monday after they became trapped by rising waters caused by heavy rainfall in the north of the country nine days ago. But this is only enough to lower the level by one centimeter and more rain is forecast sparking fears it will threaten the air pocket where the team has taken refuge. "As long as the kids know we know where they're at, they have food, a way to keep warm, water or filtration systems and light, it would really be the safest to wait it out", he suggested.

The world's attention has been riveted to their story, which echoes the tale of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days almost half a mile below the surface in 2010.

Seal commander Rear Adm Arpakorn Yookongkaew said a team of seven, including medics, are with the boys and looking after them after an underground headquarters was set up - stocked with diving equipment, food and medical supplies. In 2010, they led a rescue attempt in southern France to find French diver Eric Establie. He assured reporters that rescuers "won't bring them out until we find a totally safe way", the Bangkok Post reported.

The governor said that requests had been made to build "infrastructure" in the cave leading to the pocket where the teenagers and their coach are located.

Australian Federal Police DEtective Superintendent Thomas Hester, who is part of the rescue operation, said: "Our Specialist Response Group dive team have been diving shortly after arrival (in Chiang Rai) and one of the difficulties they face is a very flooded cave system, it's very hard to see and move through that system".

In an astonishing piece of footage obtained by ABC News, one of the boys can be heard saying "I am very happy", after being discovered by the diver team.

The video of that first contact was posted on Facebook by Thai navy special forces.

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A Thai provincial governor says the 13 people who had been missing for more than a week have all had an "informal" medical evaluation inside the cave and most are in stable condition and none are in critical condition.

One boy replies: "Oh". The search turned tense as time went on and concern grew about whether the group would be found alive.

Family members of the missing hugged each other as they cheered.

One Thai twitter user said that he was "crying in (a) taxi" at the news.

The boys range in age from 11 to 16, and are with their 25-year-old coach. But monsoon rains flooded several chambers and blocked their exit.

They were found on a rock shelf about 4km from the mouth of the cave.

But the huge physical challenge of swimming to safety may be too much for the weak and exhausted young boys - it took skilled Navy SEAL diver about six hours to navigate the narrow, mud-clogged underwater passages that led to the team's location.

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"It would be very disconcerting for them to face that situation", he said.

Except for narrow holes, two divers would escort each of the boys. They would be provided with four months of food, and there are plans to teach the trapped boys how to scuba dive.

The harrowing task of getting the boys out is complicated by the fact that they are in a weak state and are not experienced divers. Tham Luang, Thailand's longest cave, and a popular tourist site, is said to be a labyrinth and a popular tourist destination. "There is current. The visibility can be zero at times".

Thai authorities are working on the best way to extract the 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped inside a partially-flooded cave in northern Thailand.

Explorers have spent days scouring the mountaintop for possible alternative openings.

General Bancha Duriyaphan speaks to the press after the 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive.

"I want him to be physically and mentally fit", she said.

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The group entered the cave on June 23, the BBC reported.

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