Diver Delivering Oxygen Becomes First Victim in Thai Cave Rescue
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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
A Thai navy diver has died trying to deliver oxygen tanks to the 12 young soccer players and their coach trapped in a cave since June 23. The Bangkok Post said Petty Officer Saman Gunan, 37, died early Thursday morning local time.
Gunan “lost consciousness on his way out of the Tham Luang cave, where he had been delivering air tanks,” the BBC reported. Gunan died in a local hospital after life-saving efforts at the cave complex failed to revive him.
“His job was to deliver oxygen. He did not have enough [oxygen in his own tank] on his way back,” said Chiang Rai region deputy governor Passakorn Boonyaluck.
Two British rescue divers found the boys and their coach after they had been in the cave for 10 days. They were perched on a rock ledge in a small chamber located about 2.5 miles (four kilometers) from the mouth of the cave.
The cave was dry when the boys entered it. But while inside, the team was caught by “a sudden deluge of rain, which flooded the [cave] system,” the BBC added.
Rescue Efforts Race against Declining Oxygen Supply and Forecast of Heavy Rains
Since the discovery of the youngsters and their coach, teams of Thai and international divers have supplied them with food, oxygen and medical attention. However, “there are mounting concerns about the oxygen level in the chamber, which officials said had fallen to 15%. The usual level is 21%,” according to the BBC.
In addition to concerns about the oxygen level, the monsoon season has set in. Heavy rains are expected on Sunday, which threaten further flooding.
Part of the Thai cave rescue effort has centered on pumping out the water in the cave. If successful, the group might be able to wade back to the surface.
Thai Cave Rescue Will Be Dangerous for Soccer Team
However, divers may now have little choice but to attempt a daring rescue fraught with danger. “At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time…but now things have changed, we have a limited time,” the BBC reported, citing Thai Rear Admiral Apakorn Yookongkaew.
According to a map on the BBC website, a round trip by divers would take 11 hours. Divers would need six hours diving with the current to reach the group and then five hours escorting the group out against the current.
Furthermore, it’s believed that the boys cannot swim. Officials have also considered teaching them to swim to aid their escape from the cave. But there might not be enough time now for instruction.