Support team races against clock to install water pumps as water levels rise in cave
A SUPPORT TEAM involved in the rescue mission to save 12 young footballers and their coach who are stranded in the flooded Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai province said the situation inside the cave was worsening due to the rising water levels and they were working against the clock to install water pumps.
The soldiers from Mengrai Military Camp yesterday were working in a worsening conditions inside the cave to set up water pumps to drain floodwater out to open a route for the Navy Seals to find the teenagers and their coach, even as rains continued relentlessly, further inundating the complex cave system.
“The water drops falling from the cave’s ceiling are like rain, while the air inside is damp, cold and thin, and it’s very difficult to breathe,” Private Anuchit Saimor, one of the soldiers from the third battalion of Mengrai Camp, said, describing the conditions inside the cave.
Anuchit said that they have to carry their supplies and equipment through the muddy and steep terrain of the cave, as rainwater from the mountain above continues to seep inside, creating pools of water everywhere.
“It is a very hard mission for us, but we are proud to be a part of this rescue effort. We have to work against the clock to install water pumps to prevent the floodwater levels in the cave from rising even further, which will make it harder for the Navy Seals to save the missing football team,” he said.
The military support team carries necessary supplies and equipment for the operation from the cave entrance to the Navy Seals’ base camp at the third chamber, about three kilometres from the entrance, which is the farthest area inside the cave that is still accessible. Floodwaters have inundated the entire cave from this point and only divers can access the submerged section.
The entire to-and-fro six-km journey in the cave will take the support team three hours.
Private First Class Saksiri Saephung, the leader of the third battalion of Mengrai Camp, said the soldiers have been working day and night since Tuesday to transport supplies to the Navy Seals and take equipment to set up water pumps inside the cave. A total of 110 new recruits, separated into small groups of around 20 men each, would work in shifts to finish the installation of water pumps by last night, Saksiri said.
“The commander of Mengrai Camp stressed the importance of this mission, as we are helping the Navy Seals to carry out their rescue operation inside the cave and make their operation easier in the cave’s inhospitable environment,” he said.
“The Navy Seals have to work inside the cave at all times, as the journey in and out of the cave is difficult and takes too much time.”
Saksiri said the work of the support team would continue until the rescue operation is completed.