How The Thai Navy Rescued The First 4 Boys From That Isolated Cave In Thailand

news
In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Saturday, July 7, 2018, Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.
Royal Thai Navy/Associated Press

The first four boys who were trapped in the cave in Thailand have been rescued and are in "perfect" health.


The boys had to travel about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) with oxygen tanks, tethered to cave divers to exit. About 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) of the journey was underwater, where everyone had to wear full face masks.

Reports emerged that the trapped boys did not know how to swim. Swim lessons are rare in Thailand, where the leading cause of death for children under 15 is drowning. Over the past few days, the boys were given lessons in swimming and diving before they started their journey out of the cave.

Related: How US Troops Are Working To Help Rescue That Trapped Thai Soccer Team »

Experienced cave divers have noted how difficult the dive in Thang Luam Cave is. In addition to having no experience diving, the boys have mostly been without food and medicine for two weeks in tight quarters where oxygen is limited.

On Friday, officials warned that oxygen levels in the cave dropped from 21% to 15%, further complicating rescue efforts. A Thai Navy SEAL commander told reporters he believed there was "a limited amount of time" left to rescue the soccer team.

How they got out

For the first four rescues, two divers accompanied each boy, one from the side and one from behind. They made their way back to the entrance of the cave guided by a 3 mile rope. In total, 13 foreign cave divers and five Thai Navy SEAL divers participated in Sunday's rescue, according to Reuters.

The boys had to navigate through flooded passages that are no more than two feet wide in some areas. According to the Thai government, when they reached a spot that couldn't fit a person and an oxygen tank, the divers would take the boy's tank off his back while slowly guiding the boy through the narrow passages.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

The first boys exited the cave several hours before they were expected to — each leg of the journey was estimated to take six hours. Narongsak Osottanakorn, the Chiang Rai governor and head of the rescue mission, said that "today, everything was smooth."

The rest of the rescues were put on hold Sunday night while air tanks and other systems are refilled.

Racing against the rain

The boys were trapped in the cave when unexpected rains made their trip out impossible. For the last several days, crews have been trying to drain enough water out of the cave to make the rescue easier. Officials recognize that they have to finish the recuses quickly, before seasonal monsoon rains arrive and flood the caves even further.

Osottanakorn told reporters that the team had rehearsed the plan for several days, and had cleared a sizeable amount of the flooding from the cave.

The rescue has captured the world's attention, and many have offered their ideas on how to get the team out.

Rescue teams gather at a deep cave where a group of boys went missing in Chang Rai, northern Thailand, Monday, June 25, 2018.Associated Press/Thai News Pix/Krit Promsakla Na Sakolnakorn

Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested creating a tunnel out of tubes in order to avoid diving. He also floated using a small submarine that's "Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps."

Rescuers didn't use Musk's ideas to get the first four boys out, but Musk tweeted that he's communicating with the Thai government and other experts on the submarine idea.

On Sunday, Musk posted photos and video of the "kid-size submarine" his team was testing in LA. He said they would send it to Thailand Sunday evening.

Read more from Business Insider:

WATCH NEXT:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

Read More Show Less

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

Read More Show Less

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

Read More Show Less

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.

Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.

Read More Show Less