Thailand cave rescue update: Still too dangerous to remove soccer team

CHIANG RAI, Thailand -- A team of 12 boys and their soccer coach, trapped in a cave in Thailand, say they're doing okay. The boys, aged 11 to 16 years old, have been trapped underground by floodwaters for 11 days. Officials tell CBS News they don't plan to attempt to rescue the boys Wednesday because it is still too dangerous, but a team of Thai Navy SEALs and medics are staying with them inside the cave. 

Crews are divising a plan for the safest way to get them out, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

One by one, the boys wrapped in foil warming blankets took turns introducing themselves and delivering messages to their parents, letting them know they're in "good health." Some of them smiled and held up peace signs as a medic treated scratches on their feet and legs.
 
The boys appeared more alert than a day ago when British divers discovered them on a muddy ledge deep inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand. 

While enthusiasm is high, the plan for the complicated task of getting them safely out of the cave remains unclear. 


 
On Wednesday morning, Chiang Rai's governor, Narongsak Osottanakorn, suggested the team might not all be able to leave at the same time. Rescue crews are weighing the option of having the boys swim out immediately, but that is the riskiest choice.

The team is trapped about 2.5 miles from the entrance to the cave. To get out they would need to navigate through areas that require full climbing gear, several flooded sections, parts too narrow to wear a scuba tank, and a nearly 100-foot underwater dive. It's a difficult task for even the most experienced divers, let alone a group of boys who don't know how to swim.

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CBS News


 
The plan for now is to try and continuously pump water out of the cave as fast as possible, in hope they can bring the water level down enough to make it safer for the boys to try and swim out -- or better yet, wade or walk out.
 
In the meantime, a phone line is being installed inside the cave so the young soccer players can finally talk to their parents. The mother of a trapped 16-year-old said it feels like her son has been given a new life.

This has become a race against time and the weather. Heavy rains are forecast for the weekend, which could once again flood the cave. Teams have been plugging every hole they can find leading into the cave to keep out as much water as possible.