This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Heart

"If we find them, the first thing is to provide first aid and food before thinking of how to bring them up."
"We will not stop, we will work 24 hours. We're racing against time and we want them to be safe."
"The SEAL team will be working non-stop because it's already dark here too. So night and day doesn't make a big difference. They'll just need to rotate."
Thailand Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda

"We  hope this [electricians working to install electricity in the cave] will provide lights for work and fans for ventilation for the SEAL team."
"Also, it means we can use electric engines to pump water out of the cave as well."
Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn
Rescue workers and park officials at Tham Luang Nang Non cave. Photograph: Chaichan Chaimun/EPA

Twelve boys, part of a soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, under the care of their 25-year-old coach had embarked late Saturday on an adventure that took them into the famed Chiang Rai province geological wonder represented by the Tham Luang cave. That the cave complex with its many large open chambers and tunnels is often flooded during monsoon season that takes in the month of June was perhaps something the coach was oblivious to.

But information published online by the tourist bureau makes it quite clear that entry to and exploration of the caves should be avoided during this vulnerable flooding period. Local authorities and rescue teams have become accustomed to the plight of tourists trapped during these floods in the caves and having to be rescued, on occasion after having been forced to spend days stranded before rescue could be safely completed.

Hopes were high that the thirteen stranded people -- the boys and their coach -- would be quickly recovered and brought to safety. But as the days passed and the boys' families stationed in tents outside the cave forlornly view their children's bicycles, backpacks and soccer equipment resting beside the cave entrance, to be retrieved when the group emerged, time goes slowly and hope becomes fragile. The boys are believed to have made their desperate way to the back of the cave as the flooded area continued to expand and rise.

Thai Navy Seal divers are leading the search, handicapped by muddy water which in some of the cave's chambers has reached as high as the ceilings. They need breathing space to be enabled to proceed with safety, and water is being pumped out, but the rains have continued and the flooded areas continue rising, although the main cave entry remains dry. Special oxygen tanks that will enable the divers to remain under water for longer periods are being brought in.
Thai rescue officers search for alternative entrances during the rescue operation for missing football players in Tham Luang cave. Photograph: DNP/EPA

Electricians had worked continually in the light of day and the dark of night to ensure that light and ventilation for divers was available. In a situation where flood waters rise up to seven metres inside the underground complex they are desperately working to penetrate deep into the area in hopes of finding the stranded group. The divers, facing such difficult conditions, have been forced to suspend operations on several occasions, hampering their search to find a way forward through the cave complex.

Two fissures in the rock on the mountain where the cave is located were thought to represent another option for use as a "chimney" to be descended to gain cave access but turned out not to be an entry point, after all. With the aid of the power line extended inside the cave the divers are able to communicate with those waiting and hoping on the outside. When the boys ventured into the cave late Saturday afternoon, their failure to return alarmed a mother who reported her son missing after soccer practice.

Thus began the desperate search and rescue operation. Off limits during the rainy season as a result of experiences with flooding in the past, the caves nonetheless presented as a lure to the adventurous sense of exploration lodged deep in the psyches of young boys and older men alike. "We are still optimistic they are alive", commented Thai deputy prime minister Prawit Wongauwon.

People pray near the Tham Luang caves during a search for members of an under-16 football team and their coach, in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

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