Boys Trapped in Thailand Cave Say They're 'Healthy' in New Video as Rescue Efforts Intensify
The missing soccer players and their coach were found late Monday after rescue teams had been searching the flooded cave for the team since June 23
Despite being trapped in a Thailand cave for over 10 days, the twelve members of a youth soccer team that went missing said in a new video that they are “healthy.”
In a video posted by the Thai Navy SEALS on their Facebook page Tuesday, the children — aged 11 to 16 — and their 25-year-old coach are seen inside the partially flooded cavern wrapped in foil blankets. As their faces are lit by a flashlight one by one, each boy introduces himself by folding their hands and saying they are healthy, according to the New York Times.
A doctor sitting with the Wild Boar team also asks, “What do the 13 of you want to say to your fans? Everybody in this world has been following your news.”
Rescue teams are now working to determine just how they’ll get the children out safely as monsoons threaten the area.
Chris Jewell — a cave diving officer from the British Cave Rescue Council who is close to British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, who located the stranded team — tells PEOPLE that the rescue is “absolutely unprecedented.”
“There have been a few instances where divers have rescued non-divers from caves but generally they have all been very short distances… Here you are talking substantially more than that,” Jewell — who is not directly involved with the rescue efforts — explains.
Although divers have established the route through the flooded tunnel, the boys don’t know how to swim, Jewell claims, and there is “zero visibility.” However, Jewell says it’s more important that the children feel comfortable in the water.
“They might not be able to swim but as long as they feel confident in the water that will be a massive bonus,” he explains.
Despite locating the team, Jewell says no one has congratulated themselves just yet.
“It could, I’m afraid, still turn into a tragedy. There is a glimmer of hope but there is still an awful lot stacked up against the team,” he says. “So, at the minute, everyone is just focused on getting the job done before they give themselves a chance to reflect.”
He adds, “I think there is a hope. The military is very practical. Essentially, you have to get these boys under the water breathing from something and you have got to manhandle them out of the cave; or you have got to find another way to get them out — whether that’s by drilling a rescue shaft or something else. It feels as though all the resources that can be brought to bear on this problem are being brought to bear. So, because of the amount of resources, I believe there is hope, but it is a very difficult challenge.”
The missing soccer players and their coach were found late Monday after rescue teams, including members of the U.S. military, had been searching the flooded cave for the team since June 23, Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said, according to the Associated Press.
Friends and family members told the AP that the teammates often went on adventures with the coach, Ekapol “Aek” Chanthawong, including entering caves, riding their bikes to Myanmar and swimming in waterfalls.
Before his 13-year-old son was found, Thinnakorn Boonpiam told the AP that he often worried about the boy, who would sometimes come home late after being with the team.
“I have asked my son to leave the team several times, but he wouldn’t,” Boonpiam told the publication. “I suppose he enjoys these activities.”
In a Facebook post on Wednesday morning, the Thai Navy SEALS showed crews attempting to drain water from the cave.
“Putting effort together in order to drain water out of the cave as fast as possible,” they wrote. “For the highest safety of the Wild Boar team on the day the leave the cave.”