Challenges of the Thai soccer team’s rescue

It’s an incredible story.

A group of 12 boys in Thailand, accompanied by their soccer coach are trapped in a cave. The boys ages range between 11-16. They had gone into a cave as part of a team initiation ritual. Then the waters came. The group was forced further into the cave. But the waters kept coming. It’s monsoon season.

For nine days, the group was missing.

Some of their belongings had been found at the entrance of the cave and divers found the group on Monday.

Great news! But they’re having issues getting the boys out. More rains have come which have forced them still further into the caves. The plan to get them out has been extremely daunting.

To give some perspective on how difficult the rescue effort is, it had been considered as an option to leave the boys in the cave until the end of the monsoon season. Which is in October!

Tremendous resources are being put into this effort. Military divers, engineers, even Elon Musk is sending a team to assist in the effort.

They’re over a mile into the cave now. None of the boys can swim, let alone dive. For professionally trained military divers, it takes upwards of five hour to make it to the group. And more rain is expected to fall. One retired Thai Navy SEAL diver died yesterday when he ran out of oxygen.

High powered pumps are being used to try to help drain water to lower the levels, but there’s so much water in the cave that that’s having a limited impact.

Imagine how dark a cave can be. And then fill it with water that’s murky and muddy (it’s been likened to trying to swim through cold coffee). And it’s not like you’re swimming down a river. You’re winding through a cave, the elevation going up and down, jagged rocks, places with rushing water. There are places so narrow that people have to go individually.

The boys have had food brought to them in the cave but they’ve still spent almost two weeks in a wet, dark cave. Some of the boys are (not surprisingly, given the circumstances) suffering from exhaustion.

Drilling has also been talked about as an option but the boys are in a cave in a mountain and over a half mile into the mountain. I haven’t seen any estimates on how long it would take to drill, but it’s not like a drill would be able to get to the boys in a few hours. To give some perspective, when the Chilean miners were trapped underground in 2010, the drill (there was more than one drill working in different locations) that ended up providing their way back to the surface, took 35 days! And they’re having issues knowing where exactly would be the best place to drill.

It’s complicated.

It’s like a movie. And most of the movies we see in America have happy endings. And so I think we can take it for granted that this one will too. I hope it does. I pray it does.

Josh Benner
is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.

Connect with me!