The quest to rescue 12 boys and their football coach from Tham Luang cave could prove even tougher than expected.
According to Anmar Mirza, coordinator for the US-based National Cave Rescue Commission, getting trapped people out of a flooded subterranean chamber can be one of the easiest – or one of the toughest – types of cave rescue.
Success hinges on a well-thought-out plan based on factors specific to the case and situation.
Mirza told CNN that the primary options for the Tham Luang mission are:
First, teaching the trapped boys skills to dive them out – the most dangerous option. Diving people out is an extremely strenuous task that only skilled cave divers with hundreds of training hours are capable of.
Second, drill an alternative entrance. This is possible, using heavy equipment, but would be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Third, wait for the water level in the cave to subside. This could take months since the monsoon season is just beginning. Meanwhile some of the boys might get sick in the damp conditions with little space and no sunlight.
Hence, getting the boys out of the cave will inevitably involve a certain level of risk – no matter which method is chosen.