Can trapped Thai boys be rescued by studying to scuba dive?

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One of many boys smiles as a medic helps the group inside a collapse Mae Sai


Rescuers try to assist get out the twelve boys and their soccer coach stranded in a flooded cave system in Thailand earlier than the waters rise extra. One possibility is to show them to scuba dive from scratch – nevertheless it’s not a simple prospect.

Has something like this been executed earlier than?

There have been a couple of related model rescues, though over a lot shorter distances. As an example in 1992 two males have been taken via 200 meters of flooded passages in Sleets Gill Collapse Yorkshire within the UK. There was nothing approaching this stage of problem, although, nor with folks so younger as this.


How laborious is it usually to study cave diving?

Cave diving is understood for being one of many world’s most harmful sports activities. It combines the dangers of two separate actions, caving and scuba diving, which every carry vital dangers. Within the UK under-18s aren’t even allowed to study cave diving.

There are frequent deaths of skilled cave divers, often resulting from folks working out of air after getting misplaced as a result of the waters have turn out to be cloudy with silt kicked up from the cave flooring. Right here there’s a identified exit route with a information rope, however the boys and their coach will nonetheless have to discover ways to use the scuba tools and swim via darkish slender passageways with out panicking.

How possible will that be?

“It’s simply thoughts boggling” says Martin Farr, a cave diving explorer in South Wales, and a buddy of the 2 British cave divers who discovered the boys this week. Reportedly not one of the group may even swim. Scuba diving doesn’t contain regular swimming actions anyway, however swimmers would at the least be used to being underwater.

The group is at the moment sitting on a large ledge surrounded by water so their lecturers could begin by asking them to practise getting within the water to construct confidence. They can even have to get used to sporting face masks, wetsuits, helmets, and boots.

Then what is going to occur?

In all probability the subsequent step might be educating them to make use of their face masks and regulator. At this level it’s undecided if the boys ought to put on common diving masks, which cowl solely the eyes and nostril, or full face masks, which make respiration simpler however can really feel very claustrophobic. If something goes incorrect you possibly can breathe in water and choke, which may very well be lethal in case you’re too removed from an air pocket. The priority is that this may endanger not solely themselves but additionally any rescuers swimming with them. Individuals often take at the least a week-long course to study to scuba dive, and that’s someplace simple like a swimming pool or in clear open waters.

And the way will they make their exit?

One possibility may very well be to have every boy pulled alongside by a rescuer carrying their air tank. How lengthy they’ll need to go between air pockets – the place spare air tanks could be stashed –  is determined by the water ranges on the time. Your entire journey from their present place to the exit might take three hours.

What’s the hold-up?

Even having the boys towed alongside doesn’t make it simple. A lot of the passageways are in darkness due to the muddy waters. “Going out of that protected little haven they’ve been in, they are going to be precipitated into an absolute nightmare,” says Farr. The issue is scuba divers who’re frightened use extra air, and the rescuer gained’t be capable of see them to gauge how a lot their air ranges have to be topped up.

Are there another choices?

Maybe not. It’s unclear in the mean time whether or not the oxygen ranges of their cave are being depleted, or whether or not it is going to keep protected if the waters rise additional. Extra rain is forecast for the weekend. Then again, the boys regarded skinny and weak within the video, due to going 9 days with out meals – ready a couple of days extra would assist them get their power again. “It’s a commerce off between permitting them to get stronger and the danger of extra rain,” says Farr.


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