A Thai soccer team has been trapped in a cave now for over 9 days. Heavy rainfall has caused cave waters to rise trapping them, 1.4 miles in and ½ mile deep in the cave. Options are: dive through the cave water and bring the boys out, wait for flood water to go down allowing the boys to get out on their own, find another natural entrance or create another entrance.
“According to Mirza, that last option of using a natural entrance is becoming less and less likely and instead officials are focusing on the first two. But if additional flooding threatens the area where the boys are currently sheltered, they may have no choice but to dive their way out – a feat for even the most experienced divers.”
When I was in college a group of students went into Blanchard Springs Cavern exploring. The same thing happened to them. They were trapped in the cave by rising water. Navy divers finally went in to get them out. One of the divers had a heart attack and died in the process.
Blanchard Springs Cavern
When my now 25 year old granddaughter was 10 we took her to see “Everest”, at an iMax theater in Charlotte, NC. We watched a team of mountain climbers get caught by an unseasonable blizzard on the side of Mount Everest. Some died. Some lost body parts to frost bite. My granddaughter’s comment as we left the theater was, “Papa, I’m never going to climb mountains.”
That’s how I feel about spelunking.
Tours into Blanchard Springs Cavern near Mountain View, Arkansas, and in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, have been enough for me.
We toured Mammoth Cave while I was stationed at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in 1972 with our 21/2 year old daughter. At one point – after explaining to everyone how dark a cave was - the guide turned the dim lights in the cave off. Everyone got the message but our daughter. There was a moment’s silence and then a terrified scream. There is no light in a cave; none. Nothing much changes in a cave. Constant temperature and humidity and the nitre in the soil of Mammoth Springs kept the remains of a man so well preserved that,
“Two thousand three hundred years later, In 1935, Civilian Conservation Corps workers Grover Campbell and Lyman Cutliff climbed that selfsame ledge and discovered, with little more light than that given off by cane torches, the unnerving scene of an ancient tragedy. A human head and arm, the only visible parts of a body pinned beneath a six-ton boulder.”
The “mummy” found in Mammoth Cave is actually only one of several. Researchers know that the man went into the cave to dig ochre which, along with other minerals, was used for some purpose by the man’s group. They know what he had for lunch, but they still don’t know what the minerals were used for. In the process of digging the ochre the man dislodged a six ton boulder which pinned him to ta ledge in the cave.
The mummified man had taken several cane torches with him to light his way in and out. Moss doesn’t grow on any side of a cave. Moss requires some light.
I hope the Thai boys get rescued. Because the rains are monsoon rains the water may not go down until October. Food and other supplies have been delivered to the boys and their coach.
To date no natural connection to the surface from the team’s location has been found. No one seems to be considering drilling a shaft half a mile to rescue the team.
The option of diving the boys out will not be taken lightly. It is the least attractive choice for rescue. There are significant technical challenges to diving through a narrow flooded passage.
It’s beginning to look like authorities are favoring delivering supplies to the boys and waiting until October when the monsoon is over, waters have receded, and the team can walk out.
They are going to need a lot of Tiki torches for that, and will their air run out if there is no natural connection to the surface?