SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

How radios are helping Thailand cave rescue

The technology behind the handheld radios created by Maxtech Networks is what has allowed rescuers to communicate during their mission to rescue the soccer team trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. CNN's Oren Liebermann reports.

Posted: Jul 5, 2018 3:07 PM
Updated: Jul 5, 2018 3:30 PM

Divers working to free 12 boys and their coach who are trapped in a cave in northern Thailand must navigate dark, flooded tunnels for six hours to reach them. It takes another five hours to return.

Details of the extraordinary operation underway at the Tham Luang Nang Non emerged Thursday, as rescuers pushed ahead with multiple plans to free the boys trapped underground for almost two weeks.

More rain is forecast this weekend, putting pressure on rescuers to formulate a plan to remove the boys before flood waters rise any higher.

Huge volumes of water are being pumped out of the cave complex each day, but the narrow, winding passages inside the cave are still flooded, meaning diving through the murky water is currently the only way in and out.

Around the camp which has sprung up near the cave entrance, Thai military divers have set up an encampment with diving gear and equipment, while people from the local community hand out food to rescuers, other volunteers and the small army of press on site.

Why will it take so long to rescue the trapped Thai soccer team?

Trying to stop the water

Despite spending almost two weeks underground, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said Thursday the boys were in good spirits.

"I confirm here again that they are in good health and they are smiling and playing around," he said.

The last images the world saw of the boys was on Wednesday in a video where they introduced themselves one-by-one, saying "I am healthy."

Since they were found late Monday local time by a duo of British expert cave divers, Thai Navy SEALs have stayed with the team, tending minor wounds and giving them food to build up their strength.

The boys remain weak after spending days in the darkness, barely moving from the small, muddy ledge, away from the water.

While rescuers are trying to pump enough water out of the cave to allow the boys to simply walk out, Thai Navy SEALs are also teaching them how to scuba dive.

The boys would need to wear full-face diving masks to enter the narrow tunnels in moving water, though many experts say this would be a dangerous option for novice divers.

In an attempt to maintain the boys' morale, rescue teams have prioritized installing a line of communication between the boys and their parents.

However, they were still attempting to connect them Thursday after earlier efforts failed when the line became damaged after falling into water. On Thursday, CNN saw an old-style military phone and loops of cable being carried into the cave by engineers.

Lessons from Chile: 2 doctors involved in the rescue of 33 trapped Chilean miners share their insight

Search for other entrances continues

As divers work in tunnels deep below ground, teams are also scouring the hillside above the caves, looking for possible entry points to the chamber where the boys are sheltering.

"We are drawing our jungle trekking resources together. There are about 20 to 30 teams," Osottanakorn said.

"Now we are going to walk around that area to search every inch, (to see if) there are chimneys or holes where we can climb down, and we may adjust our plan."

The teams searching for another route through a natural chimney were dispatched following reports that the boys had told divers they heard dogs barking, a rooster crowing and children playing, possibly indicating a shaft leading up to the surface.

"There has been reports that kids have heard sounds from chickens and birds," Ben Reymenants, a Belgian who owns a diving shop in Thailand and has been assisting with the rescue efforts, told CNN.

"Were those hallucinations or did they really hear it? Because that would mean there is livestock nearby or at least a forest which would make an alternative entrance possible."

Osottanakorn said that teams on the surface were no longer drilling into the rock to create new shafts, but are focusing efforts on finding existing chimneys.

"We are no longer digging -- we will find a way that can give us access (without digging) direct to the area where the boys are," he said.

Rains a constant concern

Rescue coordinators are warily eying the skies for further downpours, which could imperil the rescue mission.

"In the previous days we were fighting with time. And now we are working against water," Osottanakorn said.

"We are draining out as much as our capacity allows. But water continues to flow in, no matter how many holes have been blocked, water still continues to pour in."

Osottanakorn said rescuers were at the mercy of the rainy season, and may have to act quickly to beat fresh downpours.

"If we must evacuate (the boys) out before they are ready due to the rain ... we will do so, but it will be the very last resort to do so," he said.

Rescuers have prepared 13 sets of equipment for the team, but Osottanakorn would not confirm if rescue would happen Thursday.

CNN Weather reports that while rain can't be ruled out, there is a likelihood that the area will remain relatively dry until at least Saturday.

The chance of rainfall increases from Sunday, and alongside the increased rainfall is the threat of heavier downpours.

Thai rescue drama cave likely to become tourist destination, officials say

International efforts

Thai Navy divers have brought in substantial supplies -- including food and water for at least two weeks along with aluminum blankets, with support from Australian and other international divers, according to a statement from the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The AFP's Specialist Response Group (SRG) personnel are among the many divers and support staff who have been sent by a number of nations.

The Australians on the ground "remain closely engaged in efforts to support and sustain the group, as well as in planning. This includes supporting the Royal Thai Navy to transport food, water and first aid supplies into the cave system through to the group."

They are also cooperating with Thai Navy colleagues and the wider international dive teams to stock dive tanks and other equipment throughout the route to aid the eventual evacuation of the isolated cavern.

They are part of an international contingent that includes teams from the US military, the UK, and China.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 26°
Robinson
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 28°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 25°
Paris
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 24°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 23°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 26°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 26°
Snow/Freezing Rain Early
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1101819

Reported Deaths: 20680
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4449279243
DuPage708901168
Will59768888
Lake54700921
Kane47171705
Winnebago26766415
Madison25299477
St. Clair22976450
McHenry22214258
Champaign15867106
Peoria15466251
Sangamon14918242
McLean13564171
Tazewell12296251
Rock Island12195308
Kankakee11720187
Kendall1001681
LaSalle9791250
Macon8982182
Vermilion7784117
DeKalb767894
Adams7537129
Williamson6358119
Boone565679
Whiteside5438175
Clinton517486
Coles479085
Knox4706147
Ogle470072
Grundy453154
Effingham437372
Jackson430270
Henry410277
Marion4081113
Macoupin400996
Franklin393771
Randolph380273
Livingston379270
Monroe367371
Stephenson363977
Jefferson3557105
Woodford334470
Morgan332193
Logan316959
Montgomery315954
Lee314276
Bureau305685
Christian305678
Fayette296753
Perry279262
Fulton262549
Iroquois262458
Jersey230161
Lawrence220730
McDonough219351
Saline208754
Douglas204534
Union203632
Shelby202235
Crawford183135
Cass179431
Bond178224
Warren160344
Pike160048
Richland157146
Hancock155035
Wayne154743
Clark152934
Jo Daviess152325
Washington149326
Edgar149253
Carroll146833
Moultrie141528
Ford140651
White140232
Clay134040
Greene128243
Johnson125615
Wabash121815
Mason119541
Piatt119518
De Witt119028
Mercer118730
Cumberland111727
Massac107233
Jasper106115
Menard91610
Hamilton73117
Marshall70515
Schuyler64617
Pulaski6253
Brown62211
Stark49920
Edwards4789
Henderson46616
Calhoun4504
Scott4081
Alexander4047
Gallatin3974
Putnam3572
Hardin3128
Pope2573
Unassigned1040
Out of IL320

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376