Soccer team found safe in Thailand cave, another rescue hurdle arises

By July 4, 2018

Thailand (MNN) – After ten days of frantic search, rescuers finally succeeded in reaching the twelve boys and their coach trapped inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand. All are safe and sound. Now, rescue teams are looking for a way to get the boys out of the cave, despite the water-filled caverns.

On June 23, after practice, the coach and the team entered the six-mile-long cave only to be trapped by rising floodwaters caused by monsoon rains. The first reports of the boys missing came later that night. The team’s gear was found stashed outside the cave. But by time rescuers were able to respond to the situation, the water had begun rising even more.

But finally, over the weekend, waters began to recede slightly, just enough for divers to reach the stranded team on Monday.

Now, rescuers have to try to find a way to get the boys out. But the water is rising again.

(Photo and header photo courtesy of Compassion International)

Noi is Compassion International’s Senior Manager of the program in Thailand. They learned early last week that one of the trapped boys in the cave is a beneficiary of Compassion’s sponsorship program.

The youth soccer team is made up of boys between the ages of 11 and 16 years old.

Noi says of the Compassion beneficiary, “He is 14 years old and he is at eighth grade right now. He is actually a very good boy, very active to participate in the program in the project at the church. He loves sports, of course… he loves football [soccer], he loves running, he.. also love to play guitar. He also [plays] a guitar at the church [and] got to play piano, what.. maybe you call [an] electric keyboard.

“And also he just [accepted] Jesus Christ last March, this year.”

This boy is the oldest of five siblings. While his family doesn’t live in Thailand, they are staying at the church and waiting outside the cave entrance.

Before the boys were discovered, Noi asked for prayer saying, “Please, please pray for every searching team that they can do their operation plan and go through to reach the boys, and all thirteen boys are alive and be rescued safely as soon as possible. And also pray for the strength and hope … about their families of all thirteen boys.”

(Photo courtesy of Compassion International)

This prayer request still stands as rescue teams working around the clock fight exhaustion.

Piyamary, who goes by “Oo,” is a photojournalist for Compassion and she has been on site over the last week covering the rescue operations.

Yesterday evening, local time, she said, “They just announced for further rescue plans or operation, just the last hour. So, the plan is right now, they have to wait for water inside the cave to reduce. Apparently today the water raised up little bit higher than they expected. And they’re facing the weather and flooding water at the moment.

“But what they announced, as soon as they’re ready to deliver the boys out of the cave, they will do that right away, but also it may not be all at once 13 boys. But… whoever has enough strength, if they want to come out, they will do that right away, even if they have to do one-by-one.”

Rescuers are considering teaching the boys to dive. Otherwise, the only option is to wait out the monsoon season and consequent flooding, which could take up to four months. Either way, they now have access to provisions and medical care.

Either way, as they look at different options for bringing the boys out, rescuers have not given an estimate on how long they think this will take.

The family of the Compassion sponsorship beneficiary is thankful to hear that their boy is alive, and they are thankful for all who have been praying.

“They are very happy and can’t wait to see their son,” Oo says.

(Photo courtesy of Compassion International)

And just as there has been a witness for Christ in the cave over the last several days, there has also been a Christian witness outside the cave entrance.

This boy’s family, along with other Christians, has been in constant prayer. Meanwhile, Oo says while rescuers were still searching, some of the families waiting outside were exhausting every spiritual ritual they knew to try and bring about the boy’s rescue. And the Compassion boy’s family was encouraged to join them.

“They’re the only Christian family, definitely, among other’s beliefs. So, a lot of pressure by other parents to involve with what they believe, like meditation or the offerings… but the parents were standing strong in that faith and believe that God would deliver the boys safely. And that’s what I’ve seen. I’ve never seen anyone like that.”

Meanwhile, Oo says she’s been encouraged to see the larger Body of Christ come together in prayer at the cave, throughout Thailand, and even in other nations like South Korea.

Will you join them?

Oo echoes Noi, asking for prayers for the weather to calm down, and for the rescue teams to be reinvigorated as they work out a way to get the boys out of the cave.

“I just constantly keep praying that the boys can come out as soon as possible because like I said, everybody is facing the weather and the water inside the cave. It’s just unpredictable and all I do is just like, nothing else I can besides praying  and even can ask other people, so please keep praying for the boys.”

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