Twelve boys and their coach have been found alive in a flooded cave in Thailand 10 days after they went missing.
An international* rescue effort has now begun to bring them to safety.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16 years, are all members of a local soccer team and are with their 25-year-old coach.
They went into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in northern Thailand on Saturday, June 23 for a team outing, but became stranded in the dark tunnels when the way out was flooded by a sudden and heavy rainstorm.
The boys’ families hugged one another and jumped for joy as they saw video of their children, but the area’s governor Narongsak Osatanakorn warned that they were not out of danger yet.
“We found them safe. But the operation isn’t over,” Governor Narongsak said.
Six Australian Federal Police search-and-rescue experts with cave-diving experience and members of Australia’s defence force* travelled to Thailand on a Royal Australian Air Force plane to help in the search.
The Aussie rescuers joined others from Thailand, Japan, China, US and UK.
The Thai navy shared incredible video of the moment they were found sitting on a ledge not in the water. It shows one of the divers asking the group to stay calm.
He reassures* them “many, many people are coming … we are the first”.
The trapped children didn’t know what day it was or how long they’d been missing.
“What day is it?” one of the boys asks. “What day you come help me?”
“Monday. One week and Monday,” one of those behind the camera says. “You have been here 10 days. You are very strong, very strong.
“Navy Seals* will come tomorrow with food, doctor and everything. Today you have a light? We will give you more lights.”
One of the starving boys says in English: “Eat, eat, eat”.
Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, the mother of 11-year-old Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, smiled and hugged her family as she learned of their discovery.
She said she would cook her son a Thai fried omelet*, his favourite food, when he returns home.
The rescuers will now decide how and when to get them out safely through the floodwaters.
Anmar Mirza, an American cave-rescue expert, said many challenges remain for the rescuers. He said the main decision is whether to try to evacuate* the boys and their coach or to bring them supplies to keep them comfortable until the water leaves the cave.
Governor Narongsak said the passageway to the boys goes up in some places and down in others and is very narrow, making it difficult for divers and their gear to fit through. Rising water at times forced them to retreat*. When water levels fell on Sunday, the divers moved forward, putting in place a rope line and extra oxygen supplies along the way.
Teams have also been pumping out water. Other efforts have focused on finding another entry to the caves that will bring rescuers closer to the boys. Several have been found and explorers have been able to go down into some.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked the international experts and rescuers who helped locate the missing boys for their “tremendous efforts.”
Officials said the boys know the site well and have visited many times before.
Special police medal for hero dog Max
- international: from countries around the world
- defence force: soldiers from army, navy or air force
- reassures: tells someone everything is going to be okay
- Navy Seals: a highly trained group of navy soldiers
- omelet: a meal made with eggs
- evacuate: take them out of a dangerous place
- retreat: come back out
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
- What unexpected event trapped the boys in the caves?
- What do the rescuers tell the boys to reassure them when they first find them?
- What is the main decision rescuers have to make?
- Who is Prayuth Chan-ocha?
- Using the glossary, explain who a Navy Seal is and what they do.
1. Miracle in the Caves
Complete a Y-Chart on what these young boys could see, hear and feel while stuck in the caves, not knowing if, or when, they were going to be rescued.
Try and not only describe the physical things they can see, hear and feel, but also include their emotions and feelings in your observations. Try and put yourself in their shoes.
2. Extension: Outline what you believe the best way is to rescue the boys from the cave. What needs to be considered in the rescue plan?
Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Personal & Social
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?
QUESTION: If you could send a message to support the boys while they wait, what comforting things would you say? Explain your answer using full sentences.