A daring and desperate rescue inside a sprawling cave complex in Thailand has put nerves on edge around the world, with hope for the survival of 12 teens and their soccer coach.
It was when their children didn’t come home from soccer practice that the parents reported them missing. But it was when their equipment was found outside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex that the panic began, back on June 23.
Tham Luang is a popular place for visitors in the far northern region of the country, but during the rainy season it can be dangerous, filling with water and trapping people in higher regions inside. A rescue effort, involving specialist cave divers and Thai Navy SEALs began immediately, but it took ten days before the group of 12 boys and their soccer coach were found, alive, more than a mile and a half from the entrance.
The horrifying and bizarre situation and the good news that the teens had been found alive was enough to rivet attention from across the world on this rural part of Thailand. Offers of help from around the world came pouring in.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, sent engineers from another of his companies, The Boring Company (it bores tunnels, not people), to help out. He also began working on a one-man submarine that could carry the boys through the tight passages of the cave.
Israeli radio technology from Maxtech was used to maintain a radio network that could reach all the way into the cave where the boys and their coach were stranded. Rather than requiring line-of-sight communications between any two radios, Maxtech’s radios can pass along communications from one radio through themselves to a third. That meant that the rescuers could talk to one another all along the route into the cave.
Ready to Go
At first, some of the Thai planners of the rescue believed that it would take months before they could get the group out of the cave. With many of the passages still flooded, bringing the boys out would be too dangerous. Instead, they would have to wait until the rainy season finished, four months from now.
But a quicker rescue was decided upon. The health and psychological ability of the boys to remain in the cave for months had seemed questionable in any case. And with heavy rains expected and oxygen levels in the cave at just 15 percent and falling, it seemed that their safety in the cave was in imminent threat.
The rescue would require a massive effort. Even experienced divers required six hours to get to the group through the now-underwater passages. Bringing the boys out with them would take longer. Because Thai parents avoid teaching their children how to swim, the boys have never learned to do so. And with some tight and twisty passages, some just two feet high, it is a perilous trip.