Thailand Cave: all 13 now rescued; Who are the 12 boys & their coach?

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Thailand Cave: all 13 now rescued; Who are the 12 boys & their coach?

Post by jserraglio » Fri Jul 06, 2018 3:05 pm

by Laura Demarest
Personal History

I ’d been swaddled in a cold, sopping-wet trash bag for approximately 20 hours, listening to six other cavers shivering and breathing quietly. We were huddled close on the hard ground of a muddy crawlway, a space barely tall enough for sitting up, in an Indiana cave system. Despite my cozy wetsuit socks and the light of a tiny tealight candle, sensation in my outer extremities was a distant memory. My mind raced. My mind was empty. Now and then, I could have sworn I heard the voices of our would-be rescuers, but there was nothing. We were deep underground, facing a reality for which experienced cave explorers prepare but hope to never encounter: an extended flood entrapment.
My story played out in December 2016, but I’ve been thinking about it again as I repeatedly refresh Twitter for news of a Thai youth soccer team and its coach, trapped in a cave for about two weeks. Though my story is different — we were entombed for a mere 40 hours — I know all too well what it’s like to be trapped, reliant on those around you and unable to connect with those who might be able to help.
Cavers are careful people. We take calculated risks. We check the weather obsessively, never wanting to rush into danger blindly. We are well-prepared to care for ourselves and others, having learned through years of experience, mentorship and, in some cases, voluntary rescue training. We make sure to inform friends aboveground of our intended destination and expected time to exit the cave. After all, we know cave rescues can be complex undertakings. But we are also human and capable of miscalculations.
On a normal-seeming Saturday, seven of us, with more than a century of combined caving experience, entered Binkley Cave in Indiana after assessing a potential rainfall of 0.19 inches as nonthreatening. After several hours of one-way travel into the cave, we found ourselves quickly retreating from a wide, low crawlway when a small trickle of water nearby started to rush faster and back up into drier portions of our constricted space. We later leaned that unexpected heavy rains had dumped four inches of water on the surface during our survey trip, leaving our group unable to exit.
We sought high ground in this mid-level tier of the cave and tried to play it cool. We waited and snacked, eyeing the small stream below for any changes, minor or major. We knew it had rained outside, but how much? Had the rain stopped? Was more coming? This was the first frustrating conundrum: lack of communication with the surface. When you’re stuck, as we later realized we were, you’re often dependent on those outside for rescue, but contacting them is almost impossible.
When you’re underground, you have just the people you’re with and the stuff in your packs. Most cavers prepare to be self-sufficient for at least 24 hours with gear to keep warm, light first-aid supplies, food and water. However, pack weight is always a trade-off. The more you carry, the more difficult it is to lug your pack through strenuous passages. We had placed bottles of water along our return route (to lighten our loads), though these had doubtlessly been washed away in the flood. So we emptied our supplies into a pile and were able to share granola bars, dried fruit and even some summer sausage that a fellow caver had thoughtfully packed.
When our group eventually returned to the main river route we’d need to traverse to exit, the water that had been a gentle stream on our way in was now a rushing, clod-brown torrent. It had risen more than five feet in an hour. We guessed, based on the amount of water moving through the passage, that it reached the ceiling in places along our exit route. Disappointed, we resigned ourselves to wait. Snapping into conservation mode, we shared food, water, light, body heat. We didn’t laugh much or take photos. We didn’t cry or lose it. We were in stasis.
Try to recall the last time you sat idle. Today, we are rarely without communication; many cavers enjoy these peaceful adventures to the quiet underground with good friends, away from life’s screens and pressing concerns. But when you’re trapped, being cut off no longer seems quite so desirable. I remember wondering what my husband was thinking and whether my family knew. “If only I could give them a sign,” I thought. “They probably think we are all dead.”
Cave rescue training, of the kind I’ve received through the National Cave Rescue Commission’s seminars, let me play the dutiful strategist in my head, though our position offered us limited options. First, we could attempt to exit through a much longer river route, but since that passage was taking on much of the drainage, doing so meant moving through faster, more treacherous water, which would increase the risk of hypothermia, injury and further exhaustion in the partially submerged passageway. Second, we could try a shorter route with more crawling, though that entailed many of the same dangers. Third, we could send a few intrepid cavers to go out for help along one of these routes while others remained behind, but there, too, the risks were obvious, and dividing the party threatened to leave us with fewer resources.
That left us with a fourth option. Stay put, conserve resources, wait for help. Be patient. Ugh.
At least we had each other, though that brought complications of its own. Our caving group was a team, which was critical to our survival. But we were a team made up of adults with unique experiences, ideas and ability levels. If we hadn’t ultimately agreed to wait patiently — and a multitude of ideas came up, ranging from reasonable to risky — it could have been a recipe for folly. We didn’t formally vote or organize a “tribal council,” instead making decisions organically, informed by our confidence in each other. Trusting each other also meant having faith in our surface support, believing that those aboveground would figure out where we were and find a way to help. Your survival is contingent on others — fellow cavers and potential rescuers alike — and that means you’re confined by your entanglement with them, too.
In the end, a team of welcome faces came to our aid as the waters were receding: fellow cavers, trained rescue personnel, both volunteers and Department of Natural Resources workers. All were personal friends I consider part of my beloved “cave family.” They brought us food, water, warm clothes and smiles. One later commented that when he reached our little hovel, the smell was fantastically terrible from all of us clustered together for so long in our stinky cave gear. He said it was the best thing he had ever inhaled. We made the long trek out of the cave, all of us under our own power, but greatly buoyed by the rescuers who escorted us along the safest route, along the river, and assisted along the way. It took at least four hours of exhausted trekking, wading, scrambling and crawling for all of us to exit. What greeted us on the surface, in addition to relieved and jubilant family and friends: bright lights, medical personnel, fried chicken, a worried landowner and a very inviting campfire. It was surreal. I wanted to celebrate over beers with friends. I wanted to go home and sleep forever.
Time has passed, and I still maintain an active caving schedule with all of the familiar faces — we shared an experience and became stronger for it in many ways. I sincerely hope that the soccer team in Thailand is rescued soon. I can only begin to relate to their extended entrapment, but I also feel a certain kinship toward them. Like me and my caving friends, they were drawn to the beauty of the underground and simply wanted to explore.

Laura Demarest works as a Watershed Coordinator in southern Indiana where she has been caving for 19.
Last edited by jserraglio on Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:54 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Trapped in a cave — What it's like

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:17 am

We're still down here in Wilmington-the TV was on at breakfast and we saw the rescue is now on! Wish them all well! Len

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Re: Trapped in a cave — What it's like

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jul 08, 2018 12:58 pm

As of this morning's report on NPR, which I can only get in my car on the way to church, they still have not rescued all the kids. Beyond that, the level of heroism in attempting to get them out of there is scarcely to be believed. They had to find a way to get food to them to keep up their strength. They had to teach them on the fly and at a distance how to swim, a skill that eluded me until I was in college and had to pass a swim test. It brings tears to my eyes. What I would not want to be is the coach of this boys' football (soccer) team, who undoubtedly with the best intentions led them into the trap. Assuming he himself survives, he will have to live with this memory for the rest of his life.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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8th boy now rescued in Thailand

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:57 am

CNN reports that four more boys have been brought out of the cave this morning. Eight are now out and in treatment.

BBC News
Cave rescue: Who are the 12 boys and their coach trapped in Thailand?


More than two weeks ago, 12 boys and their football coach walked into a cave after football practice in northern Thailand.
The boys, who are part of the Moo Pa - or Wild Boars - football team became trapped when heavy rains flooded the Tham Luang cave and cut off their escape route.
Four boys have been freed from the cave but nine people are waiting to be rescued. Authorities have not confirmed who has been brought to safety.
Few details about the missing group have been released. Here is what we know about the boys and their coach:

Chanin Vibulrungruang (Nickname: Titan), 11
The youngest in the team. Titan started playing football at age seven before joining his school's sports club.
He was later invited to join the Wild Boars football club.

Panumas Sangdee (Nickname: Mig) 13
According to Nopparat Kantawong, the head coach of the football team, Mig is bigger than other kids his age, but he is agile.

Duganpet Promtep (Nickname: Dom), 13
The captain of the Wild Boars, Dom has reportedly been scouted by several professional clubs in Thailand.
He is said to be a motivator and respected by his team for his football skills.
"Players on the field need a captain like this because sometimes the coach can't get in to solve their problems," Nopparat told the BBC.

Adul Sam-on, 14
Adul was born in Myanmar's self-governing Wa State and left his family behind to get a better education in Thailand, according to the AFP news agency.
He speaks Thai, Burmese, Chinese and English and was the only one able to communicate with the British divers when the group was first discovered.
While trapped in the cave, the boys and their relatives have exchanged letters, carried by the rescue divers. Adul told his parents he missed them and not to worry.
"Mum and Dad want to see your face," his parents wrote. "Mum and Dad pray for you and your friends, so we can see each other soon."

Somepong Jaiwong (Nickname: Pong), 13
"Pong is a cheerful boy, he likes football, and every sport. He dreams of becoming a footballer for the Thai national team," his teacher Manutsanun Kuntun told AFP.

Mongkol Booneiam (Nickname: Mark), 12 or 13
Mark has been described by his teacher as a "very respectful and good child."
His father Thinnakorn Boonpiem told AFP that his son is a "good boy" who loves to study - almost as much as football.

Nattawut Takamrong (Nickname: Tern), 14
In a letter to his parents, Tern told them not to worry about him.
"Dad and mum are not angry at you and do not blame you," his parents wrote, adding they were waiting for him "in front of the cave."

Peerapat Sompiangjai (Nickname: Night), 17
Night went missing on his birthday and his parents say they are still waiting to hold his party.
According to reports, the boys went into the cave on 23 June to celebrate Night's birthday. They were said to have brought treats and snacks along with them.

Ekarat Wongsukchan (Nickname: Bew), 14
In a letter to his mother Bew promised to help her at the shop once he was rescued.

Prajak Sutham (Nickname: Note), 15
Note has been described by family friends as a "smart, quiet guy".

Pipat Pho (Nickname: Nick), 15
In his letter, Nick told his parents he wants to go for Mookatha, or Thai barbeque, when he comes out of the cave.

Pornchai Kamluang (Nickname: Tee), 16
"Don't worry, I'm very happy", said Tee in a letter to his parents.

Assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong (Nickname: Ake), 25
In his letter, Ake apologised to the parents for taking the boys into the cave, but several replied that they did not blame him.
"I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can," Ake also wrote.
Some media reports suggest when the group was found Ake was weakest, after refusing to eat any of the food they had brought with them, giving it instead to the boys.

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Re: Thailand Cave: 8th boy now rescued; Who are the 12 boys & their coach?

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:09 pm

That sporting coach was in loco parentis and willfully negligent. I hope he faces an inquiry, or the courts after this is over. Absolutely appalling judgment and one person has already lost his life in the rescue mission.

Fingers crossed everybody else makes it out OK and nobody else has to die.

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Re: Thailand Cave: all 13 now rescued; Who are the 12 boys & their coach?

Post by jserraglio » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:37 am

All 12 Boys And Their Coach Are Rescued From Thai Cave, After 2 Weeks

The doctor in attendance and three Navy SEALS have yet to emerge.

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