By The Nation
A RESCUE TEAM will begin drilling a shaft near the tail end of Tham Luang Cave today to boost efforts to save 12 teenagers and their football coach.
Flash floods are believed to have stranded the 13-strong group inside the cave since last Saturday.
As floodwaters have blocked rescue efforts that started from the cave’s only known entrance, rescue planners have turned to drilling in a bid to open new access points close to where the group is believed to be located.
As of press time, Royal Thai Navy SEAL divers have managed to reach only as far as the third chamber from the cave’s mouth.
Drilling the shaft near the tail end of the cave may allow rescue planners to see the latter part of the 10-kilometre-long complex and send food to the missing.
“We have decided to go ahead with drilling the chosen shaft near the end of the cave,” Suwit Kosuwan, who heads the Environment Geology Bureau’s Active Fault Research Unit, said yesterday.
He said that although the drilling equipment was heavy, it was not beyond the rescue team’s ability to move it up to the mountain above Tham Luang Cave.
According to the plan, the drilling at the tail end will first create a small hole wide enough to insert a camera and then send food down if the team is found to be there. “After that, we will decide what to do next,” he |said.
Three spots for drilling were chosen on Thursday.
Drilling started at the first spot, a cliffside near the cave entrance, on Thursday night in the hope of more quickly draining floodwater from the cave. But the effort was unsuccessful.
Drilling at the second spot, near the tail end of the complex, will begin today, while the third spot is a shaft high up on the mountain above the middle zone of the cave.
“For the third spot, we are still waiting analysis of the mountain rock layers to plan the drilling,” Suwit said.
He said if the resistivity survey showed that drilling was possible, it would begin today at the third spot – the closest to where the missing are thought to be sheltering.
The sound of drilling would |boost the morale of the trapped teenagers, said King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang president Suchatvee Suwansawat yesterday.
‘Sound will raise their spirits’
“I believe they are still alive. When they hear drilling sound, they will realise that help is coming, their spirits will rise,” he said.
Suchatvee said Tham Luang Cave was made of limestone, which meant drilling should be easy if the equipment was properly installed and careful analysis conducted.
“Rescue operations are difficult because of continued downpours. But with engineering technology, equipment and all-out rescue efforts, hope remains that all missing will be saved,” he said.