Caves, water, flooding, kids…

Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach have been found alive in a partially flooded cave.

After 10 days trapped in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand, and after an enormous search effort that had transfixed Thailand, the missing 12 boys and their soccer coach had finally been found in Tham Luang Cave on Monday.

The group had been the focus of a search-and-rescue operation ever since the boys and their coach went into the cave complex after soccer practice on June 23 and were caught inside by rising floodwaters. While the cave is a popular spot to visit, a sign outside warns that in the rainy months starting in July, it is unsafe to go inside.

“It’s fantastic. It’s amazing,” he said. “But now the real work starts, how to get them out. That’s the real challenge. Of course it is fantastic news, but they are very weak.”

Another article continues: The cave, by the way? Is seven miles long.

The British diver John Volanthen was placing guide lines to try to get closer to 12 missing boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave network when he ran out of line himself, forcing him to the water’s surface.

If his line had been even 15 feet shorter, he would have turned back and not reached them on that dive Monday night. The group would have spent at least another night on its own in the pitch black, not knowing if a rescue would ever come.

Worst-case scenario: the kids will be stuck in the cave until the end of the rainy season–four months. (Not a viable scenario. They’d probably drown.)

The Thai Navy SEALS are supremely confident, however:

“When we first discussed this mission, we said right away this mission is impossible,” said the governor of Chiang Rai Province, Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is overseeing the search and rescue operation. “In English, it will be mission impossible, like the movie. But the SEALs were very confident in their ability, and they told us they would bring the boys out.”

Well, if we could bring Matt Damon back from Mars, we can get these boys out.