Myanmar rescue workers join search for trapped children in Thai cave

Myanmar rescue workers search a cave in Tachilek, Shan State, on June 30, 2018. Photo: Facebook / က်ိဳက္မေရာ/မုဒံု သတင္းစံု

Myanmar officials and rescue workers have joined the search for Thai 12 children and their 25-year-old football coach, who were trapped by a flood in northern Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave on June 23.

Teams of foreign experts and divers, including US Navy SEALs, have come to the remote, mountainous jungle in Mae Sai District, where the mouth of the six-mile cave is located, to assist the hundreds of Thai rescue workers stationed there. Rescue efforts have focused on pumping out water and venturing deeper into the flooded cave through the main entrance, but rescuers have also been drilling holes into the roof of the cave to explore remote chambers and drop bundles of food and bottles of oxygen.

Thai authorities believe the cave has entrances on the Myanmar side of the border, in Shan State’s Tachilek Township, and have asked their Myanmar counterparts to join the search. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Shan State government are now cooperating with Thai authorities.

Myanmar firefighters, police, volunteers, local officials, and members of the Myanmar Red Cross Society have been searching the caves since June 28 but have not yet encountered a trace of the missing children.

Hope for the boys’ survival is kept alive in Thailand by the fact that the boys were reportedly familiar with the cave and have visited several times before. Some speculate that they made it to a wide, airy chamber in the center of the cave.

According to one American cave rescue coordinator, if the boys are alive, they would theoretically be able to survive for up to a month and a half without food, but they risk illness from drinking potentially contaminated water, as well as the psychological challenge of not known when they will be rescued.

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