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Thai boys lost in Tham Luang cave system

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by EgonSpengler, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    Has anyone else been following this story? It's in its 5th day. A youth soccer/football team went into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system on Saturday and never returned. I guess the caves are a well-known tourist attraction. The boys and one adult coach were trapped when a rain storm submerged the entrance.

    Random bits:
    - The 12 boys are aged 11-16, and are believed to have had supplies with them, including food. So it's not impossible that they're still alive, even after 5 days.

    - 600 hikers are on the mountain above the caves, looking for undiscovered entrances.

    - The rain has been so heavy that the water level inside the caves rose 6 inches in one hour this morning.

    - Thai Navy SEALs have swum about 3 km in, and found some backpacks.

    - A 17-person US Air Force "Pararescue" team arrived today. USAF Pararescuemen are survival experts who assist pilots and soldiers in extreme situations. If you've ever seen the films The Perfect Storm or Blackhawk Down, you've seen Pararescuemen depicted onscreen. The US Navy is also sending a team to help.

    - A team of British cave divers are also there. It's unclear to me whether these are civilians or military. I suppose they could be SAS or SBS, and just aren't advertising the fact.

    - There's a theory/hope that the boys retreated to a large cave called "Pattaya Beach", which is up above much of the complex, is dry, but is three miles (almost 5 kilometers) from the cave entrance.

    - Rescuers are trying to drill a small hole through the mountain that would let them lower an infrared camera into Pattaya Beach, but have not yet succeeded.
     
  2. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    doesn't sound good... :(

    Seals swam 3 km into the system? Thats a lot of cave to cover if you're trying to avoid rising water
     
  3. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Hm, what kind of morphology allows the cave to have its water level rise that much that people must swim in it? Is it near sea-level with parts being below it? Given i suppose it is so massive, it can't realistically be fully flooded. But if the entrance was submerged, was it impossible for the people in to just swim to the outside?* (ok, a bit Lara-Croft styled, but maybe better than staying in for days).


    *i guess the "entrance" might be at the end of a very long cavity, also fully submerged, so it would not really be safe to do that either.
     
  4. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    Caves have not always emergency exits.
    Perhaps popular caves should always have them, instead of now trying to find other entrances and drill holes
    * Food is not really an issue as long as the rain stops and water levels decrease again within a couple of weeks.
    * Water is as such an issue. but I understand there is too much rain water, so the only issue is how foul it is.
    But if you drink small sips of water your stomach acid will deal with most if not all the bacteria. (I guess nobody of them will know that if you eat a small bit and have a sip shortly after, the duration of the water in your stomach will increase from 15 to roughly 60 minutes, in order to kill bacteria better).
    And you should always dehydrate your body first by not drinking a while, to adjust your kidney, your peeing rate, before using the fresh bottle water you have with you. Perhaps this soccer coach rationed it from the start, pooling it as well.

    If they did find a dry place, with enough air from cave channels, their only real dangers are desperation and panic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  5. Silurian

    Silurian Chieftain

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    They would be civilian.

    There are quite a few people who go cave diving for fun, some of them take part in cave rescue teams.

    http://www.caverescue.org.uk/rescue-teams/

    There are similar mountain rescue teams.
     
  6. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Chieftain

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    Only got into a cave once. Didnt like the feel of having a mountain-sized mass of solid rock over my head.
     
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  7. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    The hikers on the surface of the mountain found a new "chimney" shaft last night, about 1.5 meters wide. The British cavers have descended into it, about 40 meters so far. A package of food and drinking water was dropped down the shaft, just in case it leads somewhere useful.

    I assume the entire 3 km wasn't underwater, but I guess I don't know for sure.

    There's a picture around the web of the boys' bikes, parked well inside the cave complex, so I guess you can ride into it for a while before you have to walk. There's one section of tunnel leading to 'Pattaya Beach' that's described as 'narrow', and fully flooded to a depth of 5 meters. The article I read didn't say how long it is, but it read like it isn't swimmable without SCUBA gear.

    This is the rainy season, and the caves are technically closed for the Summer. It's unclear to me whether the group was in there illegally or the rain came early. At any rate, it's been raining so hard that the water level inside the caves rose 6 inches in one hour yesterday morning, and the divers had to retreat to the surface for 4 or 5 hours. The caves do drain naturally, and the rescuers are using high-capacity pumps, but they're unable to keep up. And this morning, 3 men were electrocuted by some of the machines in the caves (injuries were minor, but I imagine they had to shut a lot of equipment down).

    This is the terrain on the surface of the mountain. It's not hard to imagine that hundreds of hikers could walk right past a crevice or small cave without seeing it. The military is using drones equipped with infrared cameras to search the surface for entrances, and the King has donated 2,000 raincoats for volunteers.

     
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  8. innonimatu

    innonimatu Chieftain

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    Still they better be found soon. Groups of people stuck somewhere with water but no food, after a few weeks do sometimes get creative to solve that problem...
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  9. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    If their water is also running out, it may not help with anything to cannibalize. Though maybe they can drink the rain water (not sure; others noted about the bacteria)
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I have an (ir)rational fear of caves and usually refuse to go inside any unless it's part of a cool castle or there's glowing worms or something equally cool

    Hope these kids actually somehow survive. Imagine what their families must be going through...
     
  11. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    "Officials said the boys know the site well and have visited it many times before, buoying hopes that they might have trekked to a large airy chamber in the centre"
     
  12. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    More bits:

    6 members of the Australian Federal Police Specialist Response Group have arrived to help.

    A Chinese team has arrived with some underwater drones.

    The water in the caves is so muddy, there's almost no visibility. At one point, divers had to retreat from an underwater mudslide.

    The SEALs are setting up guide ropes along the passages, and securing spare oxygen tanks along the route.

    One of the submerged passages they're traversing is a kilometer long.

    A Thai physician who's a former Navy SEAL is among the volunteers.

    The air temperature inside the caves is 20-25C / 68-77F, so provided you stay dry, hypothermia isn't a big concern.

    The cave system "breathes", with lots of fissures, so oxygen shouldn't be a concern, either.
     
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  13. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    So, how much food did they have going in?
     
  14. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    I don't think that's known. You can actually go camping in some of these caves (see below), but these boys were probably just on a 1-day hike.

    Hang Son Doong, in Vietnam:
    Spoiler :
     
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  15. Silurian

    Silurian Chieftain

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  16. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Warlord

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    All 13 are believed to be in fair condition, but it's unknown whether they can make the swim back out of the cave. Medical personnel are going to swim into the cave to assess and treat on-site. The Thai physician who's a former SEAL, plus the USAF Pararescuemen are specifically trained to provide medical care in bizarre situations. Those Australian police officers probably are, too. I think they train for collapsed buildings, train crashes, stuff like that.

    The article Silurian linked notes that part of the submerged passageway is so narrow that the divers had trouble getting through it with their SCUBA gear.
     
  17. Silurian

    Silurian Chieftain

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    They will have to stay in the cave until the water goes down.
    Being nearly too narrow too get through with scuba gear it would not be advisable with people who have never worn scuba gear, they will panic.
    I have worn breathing apparatus, in confined spaces, and been in a set of rooms with theatrical smoke where you could not see beyond the end of your nose.
    I think there is a good chance I would panic if I had both at the same time, under water etc.
    It is supposed to rain again so they may well be in there for another week.
     
  18. rah

    rah Chieftain Supporter

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    At least they're safe now, which wasn't a guarantee before.
     
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  19. Silurian

    Silurian Chieftain

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    Divers from the volunteer British Cave Rescue team found them.
    But that was most likely just luck.
     
  20. red_elk

    red_elk Chieftain

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    Great job by the rescuers!
    Poor guys, I bet they've had more than enough cave hiking impressions for the rest of their lives.

    I went for a hike in Thailand caves once, it was very short trip though, we spent about an hour inside. It was very cool, I liked it.
     

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