13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

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#241 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Gaybutton » Fri Jul 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Captain Swing wrote:The New York Times has published its recap of the whole story

Thank you very much for posting that. I had no idea about the details the rescuers went through or the use of the rafts, which I did not know before and I think was very clever.

Those rescuers were ingenious in their methods. To paraphrase a line from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," - However much they're paying them, it's not enough.

Everyone who was interested in the rescue definitely should see that article.

Here is the link again:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/worl ... seals.html

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#242 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby fountainhall » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:03 pm

Another fascinating interview on vox.com with 45 year old Belgian, Ben Reymenants, 45, who owns a diving company in Phuket, Thailand.

Q: When did you get called in to help look for the missing boys, and can you describe the first few days of the search?

Ben Reymenants: We saw on the news that the kids were missing, and then I saw that the British cave rescue group had already come to the site, so I’m like, “Okay, these guys are experienced, they’re in good hands.”

But they were helped by the Royal Thai Navy SEALs, who had less cave experience. So a friend of mine who deals with these guys says, “Hey, they’re going to need support. Can you please come over and advise these guys how to actually move through these caves and fix the lines?”

Of course, I didn’t think twice. Twelve boys with their whole lives in front of them. But then when I arrived, the British cave divers had just come out the cave and they were like, “This is madness.”

Q: Why?

Ben Reymenants: When I arrived, the entrance looked like the Colorado River, but with mud and with zero visibility, so it was really pulling hand over hand.

There was this really strong outflow, and at the beginning we were advancing about maybe 100 meters a day in zero visibility, fighting the current. And then there are parts where you have to climb up, dragging all your tanks.

I turned around from one unsuccessful dive, and I took out my line and came back and I met the British who were on their way in. And then we decided, “We have to call it off, because it’s not going to happen. People will die, and we don’t even know if these kids are alive.”

We told the Navy commander. And he says, “Yes, but these are kids from Thailand. I can’t face the public and say ‘we’re calling it off.’”

So he said, “I’m going to send in my Navy SEALs and we’re going to try.”

Of course, 19-year-old SEALs ... I could be their dad. So I’m like, “Okay, the least I can do is help them try.”

Then on the third day, the [visibility improved] and the current was less strong. The Navy Seals had come back unsuccessfully; they had swum in circles and couldn’t find the passage. The British cave divers had already said, “We’re going home.”

I managed to push 200 meters of line. And they said, “Let’s work in teams, laying line.” While one team was sleeping, the other continued, so round-the-clock. And we started advancing fast because the rain had stopped, the vis got better, the flow got less, and then we actually went really fast through the cave.

These were still dives of six to eight hours. Very, very tiring.

Q: So how was it actually finding them?

Ben Reymenants: The difficult part was to find this T-junction [a narrow part of the cave with a very sharp turn, beyond which was the tunnel that eventually led to the boys]. We got stuck a few times, we freaked out.

And then [our team] found the T-junction, laid another 400 meters of line in the right direction, and then I think we stopped literally not even half a kilometer from the room where we thought they were, and we ran out of line,

So we had to turn around. It was very frustrating.

When we came out, the British cave divers were just coming in, and we were like, “You probably can find them. We think it’s just another 400 to 800 meters.” And so they went in right after us, and three hours later, they surfaced in the room where the kids were. You’ve probably seen the footage.

I couldn’t believe it. Especially that there were all 13, alive and nobody injured, and their mental status as well, they were all like, “Hey, oh, we’re so happy, What day is it?” Remarkable.

Q: So how did the decision-making process go for the rescue?

Ben Reymenants: Obviously the whole world ... had solutions; you have no idea the messages that I got. I pushed away a phone call, and they kept calling me and they said, “It’s the offices of Elon Musk,” and I said, “Right, is Barack Obama gonna call me next?”

But they said, “No, check your email, it’s actually us,” and it was (someone)@spaceX and I said, “Oh shit, I’m so sorry.” And they said, “We have all these solutions.”

So they were actually trying at four different levels: they were trying drilling, they were trying sonar in the forest to find alternative entrances, they were making a capsule to get them out.

One of the [rescue team’s] options was actually to teach them how to dive. But this is already pretty hard for experienced cave divers. See, the risk is if the boys panic and they pull off the mask, they drown. It’s a mile in; there’s no chance for survival.

And they were so skinny and so weak, there was no way they could have walked over all of this. So we decided to put them on a stretcher, with a full face mask, with pure oxygen on a positive pressure.

And it was quite chilly, so although they were put in wetsuits, their metabolism was so low that they were half-asleep, half-unconscious when they were brought out. So they were put immediately in quarantine and medical care. [Some reports have also claimed that the kids were sedated for the journey.]

And they’re all in good health and it’s amazing. And what I heard was that the coach did long meditation sessions [before leaving the cave] so they could calm down.

Q: How did the divers maneuver the stretchers through the narrowest parts of the cave?

Ben Reymenants: The smallest space was actually 2 feet wide, so yes, it was quite high, 60 centimeters high. And these kids are quite skinny and strapped to a stretcher.

The kids had to be literally pulled and dragged through that part. That’s also why they decided to strap them in and cover their face with a full face mask, so just in case they would panic or whatever. It’s not easy.

I stayed outside of the cave [during the rescue], since I needed to heal my hands and back. But friends of mine, the cave divers, they basically literally pulled and dragged the stretchers and handed them over [to one another]. So 24 divers were actually in the cave, and the stretchers were pulled out one-by-one and handed over to the next group, and the next group.

It was still a good two hours per kid.

Q: How did it end up being so much shorter than the initial dives?

Ben Reymenants: By now, we knew the cave. In the beginning, we were literally looking and searching and fighting current. But now, with all the teams, by the time one team carried the stretcher about 100 meters, they got tired and could hand it over to the next team. So that’s why. It was very efficient.

Also from Camp 3, rock climbers had actually installed hooks in the roof and made a sort of cable zip line where you could attach the stretchers. It was initially installed there to haul more than 500 tanks into the cave. And the stretchers were clipped on there — they’re very light kids — and that made them come out very quickly.

But it was still only four kids a day.

Q: How often do these kinds of cave rescues happen and how does this one compare to others?

Ben Reymenants: This cave ... is only visited when it’s the dry season; when it’s completely dry, people walk in there. It’s a very long cave—it’s about [5.5 miles] long.

When it’s flooded, nobody dives. There are no lines. Normally, dive caves have a full set of lines and arrows to point to the exit and safety markers in place, but this one had nothing. So it was really finding your way through with a pretty basic map.

Q: I’ve heard this will be turned into two movies.

Ben Reymenants: Oh, you have no idea how many requests. Discovery, National Geographic.

https://www.vox.com/2018/7/12/17564360/ ... reymenants

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#243 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Captain Swing » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:22 pm

Very interesting and moving interview. We'll probably be gradually getting more of these first-person accounts, filling in more and more details, but even so I don't think those of us sitting in front of our screens will ever be able to truly grasp the horrible difficulty these divers faced. Some of the best people in the world, and they were about to give up, judging the situation to be hopeless. In some ways this seems to be even more heroic and difficult than, say, landing a man on the moon. I think maybe as time goes on this might be recognized as really an historic accomplishment.

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#244 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Captain Swing » Sat Jul 14, 2018 3:08 am

The Washington Post has published their recap article, which has some new angles and details that will be of interest to those who, like me, are obsessed with this story.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ti ... ost&wpmm=1

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#245 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Captain Swing » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:03 am

I don't mean to wear you out, but here's the BBC's summary article:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44791998

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#246 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Gaybutton » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:51 am

Captain Swing wrote:new angles and details that will be of interest

When I read these articles and watch the videos, it really hits home as to what an impossible task the rescue was and how miraculous it was that it succeeded. The only thing, in the end, that really went wrong was the death of the Thai diver. But judging from the articles and videos, that in itself was virtually a miracle and, sad as it was, there was only one death. In one of the articles a rescuer said some of the passages were so narrow that simply looking to the right or left would tear off the face mask.

I'm curious about those green stretchers they used. I've never seen anything like those before. I'm wondering whether they are a standard used in rescue operations, were improvised, where they got them from, whose idea it was to use them, etc. Whoever came up with the idea to rig up the cables and use the stretchers deserves a reward of his own.

I'm also wondering whether Thailand is going to continue limiting it to warning signs at flood-prone cave entrances or perhaps install locked gates that will only be opened when there is no question that flooding won't trap or drown people.

Considering the number of idiots out there, while I hope it doesn't happen, I won't be the least bit surprised if now other people are going to go into caves and end up trapped.



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#247 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby fountainhall » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:23 am

Watching that BBC filmed summary, I found myself tearing up once again. I can't think of any world event in my long lifetime which has affected me as much as this one. Is it perhaps because it happened on our doorstep in Thailand? Is it because it all seemed so impossible - even to the rescuers? We know how Thais are not the best organisers. Yet this time they formed an amazing team with their expert farang brothers and sisters and achieved the impossible. None did it for money or glory - just a determination to give these youngsters a chance of life. I am thrilled I was able to watch a miracle take place.

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#248 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Captain Swing » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:41 pm

Gaybutton wrote:I'm curious about those green stretchers they used. I've never seen anything like those before. I'm wondering whether they are a standard used in rescue operations, were improvised, where they got them from, whose idea it was to use them, etc. Whoever came up with the idea to rig up the cables and use the stretchers deserves a reward of his own.

NY Times:
The 30-strong American team, which was integral to the planning, recommended that each child be confined in a flexible plastic cocoon, called a Sked, which is marketed as a rescue stretcher and is a standard part of the Air Force team’s gear.

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#249 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby Gaybutton » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:51 pm

Now that we're in the aftermath of the rescue, sooner or later some difficult questions are going to be raised for Thailand. In a sense, the people of Thailand and much of he world has "adopted" these boys. But some of them, including the coach, are technically stateless.

What will become of their status? Will they remain status quo and be unable to accept any of the invitations in foreign countries? If they are granted Thai citizenship, what about their parents? Will these boys travel outside of Thailand without their parents?

If they are granted citizenship or some sort of other privileges, what about the many nameless and faceless children also in Thailand? Would it be fair to grant these boys special privileges while continuing to leave all the others stateless? How will the Thai people react to that? How will Thailand be viewed by the rest of the world?

I'm sure those types of questions, along with many others, will eventually have to be addressed.

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#250 Re: 13 Thais Missing during Caving Expedition

Postby fountainhall » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:05 pm

I reckon there will be an international outcry if the boys and their families as well as the coach are not given citizenship. No-one can expect these young children to travel to Europe to take up the offers from the soccer teams in Barcelona, Lisbon and Manchester without parents or guardians or if three remain stateless and cannot be with their teammates. Keeping the story alive will not only be good for the country, all that TV coverage will be immensely valuable for the image of Thailand. This is too much of a 'feel good' story for the Thais to screw it up now and not do that.

Sadly I fear that other stateless kids and their families will probably end up being as forgotten as they were before the cave drama started.


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