The Raw Data
Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.
On Sunday, Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn confirmed that four boys had been rescued from the Tham Luang cave in Thailand, where their soccer team and coach became trapped on June 23. Officials said the four boys’ conditions were “not that bad,” and they were taken to a hospital about 35 miles (56 km) away for further evaluation. Rescue operations resumed on Monday and four more boys were rescued.
The four boys rescued Monday were also taken to the hospital for evaluation. That day, Narongsak said, “I insist that all [boys and their coach] will be safe and sound.”
In between rescue operations, divers must replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route, a process that takes about 10 to 20 hours, according to Narongsak. A team of 90 divers, including 40 from Thailand, have participated in the rescue operation since it started. Narongsak said 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs aided in the operation on Sunday. He said rescuers had been rehearsing the operation over the last three or four days.
On Sunday, rescuers said water levels had dropped in the cave by nearly a foot since the previous day. There had been a lack of rain in the preceding days, and authorities had been pumping water out of the caves. “We have reached peak readiness,” Narongsak said. “The meaning of readiness is… perfect weather, water and the kids’ readiness, physical (sic) and mentally.”
The boys, their coach and their families had all agreed that they should be moved out as soon as possible, according to Narongsak.
Authorities decided to start the rescue attempt at 10 a.m. local time Sunday. Narongsak said the first boy came out of the cave at 5:40 p.m. local time, the next 10 minutes later, and the other two at 7:40 and 7:50 p.m. local time. Authorities did not release the names of the four boys to the media.
Authorities ordered media away from the cave before the rescue to clear a path for transporting them to the hospital and to protect their privacy, according to The Associated Press. The hospital evaluation was to include an examination of the boys for potential long-term health effects from lack of oxygen, since levels in the cave were measured at 15 percent. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) considers an oxygen level below 19.5 percent to be “oxygen-deficient and immediately dangerous to life or health.”
The trip out of the cave
British divers found the team about 2.5 miles (4 km) from the cave entrance last Monday. The trip out of the cave involved wading in water, diving along guide ropes placed by previous divers, walking and climbing. The boys had been learning to dive since rescuers found them on July 2. During the diving sections, the boys wore full-face masks, and two experienced divers accompanied them and carried their air tanks.
The boys traveled more than half a mile underwater, according to NBC News. In the first 0.6 miles (1 km) of the trip, the boys had to pass through a flooded channel that was narrow enough that divers were required to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them because they could not fit through the channel with the tanks on their backs.
The round trip to where the team was and back out of the cave was previously reported to take about 11 hours. After efforts to drain some water from the cave, the round trip may have been shortened by at least three and a half hours, CNN reported. Officials had at one point estimated the trip out of the cave could take the boys two to four days to complete.
On Friday, former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, died while returning from delivering oxygen tanks in the cave.
The soccer team entered the cave when it was dry. When it began flooding, the team took shelter on a ledge above water in a cavern. To hydrate, the boys licked drops of water off the cave wall prior to the divers discovering them, according to NBC News. Thai and international rescuers have brought food, oxygen and supplies to the team while they await rescue.
On Sunday, Narongsak said, “There’s no time limit on the operation. It depends on the weather. It depends on the water levels. If something changes we’ll stop. But I expect the operation to finish in the next couple of days.”
Forecasters have predicted monsoon rains in the coming days. The monsoon season could flood the route out of the caves until October, CNN reported. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said there is an 80 to 90 percent chance of rain Monday through Wednesday, and the long-term forecast predicts rain for the next seven to 10 days. Rain began falling after the first four boys exited the cave on Sunday.
A spokesman for Elon Musk’s Boring Company, which has four engineers at the cave, said Sunday that Thai officials had requested what Musk called a “tiny kid-sized submarine” made “using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of [a Space X] Falcon rocket as [a] hull” be sent to them. The “mini-sub” could possibly be used in future rescues. Musk tweeted at 5:49 p.m. EDT on Sunday that it would be arriving in Thailand in about 17 hours, which would have put it there at about 9:49 p.m. local time (10:49 a.m. EDT) on Monday.