Briefing by Mr. Narongsak Osottanakorn, Commander of the Joint Administration Center for Rescue Operations at Tham Luang Cave – Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park
Saturday 7 July 2018 at 10.50 hrs.
On 7 July 2018, at 10.50 hrs, Mr. Narongsak Osottanakorn, Governor of Phayao, in the capacity of Commander of the Joint Administration Center for Rescue Operations at Tham Luang Cave – Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai, gave a briefing on the progress of the rescue operation. Summary of the briefing is as follows.
1. The rescue operation comprises of 3 missions, namely search, rescue and evacuation. While the search operation is assesed at difficulty level is 25 per cent and has already been accomplished, the rescue operation is more challenging as it has 50 - 60 per cent of difficulty level. This operation is one of the world’s most challenging rescue missions where diving skills are very much required and many countries are kindly offering both specialists and equipments to assist the operation.
2. The key objective of the mission is to evacuate the youth soccer players and their coach. Meanwhile, the search for alternative entrance holes into the cave is ongoing. Currently, 18 holes have been surveyed while 4 of them were drilled. However, the target location cannot be identified yet at the moment. The main constraint is the lack of technology that can accurately locate their exact whereabouts. Once the location is found, the Center assessed that it might have to drill about 600 meters to reach them. With regard to the Chilean Mine incident, the miners were trapped a kilometer underground but since the rescue team could identify their location, it could provide food and supplies to them while the drilling operation took 2 months to accomplish.
3. The Center is satisfied with the successful operations to redirect water flows from running into the cave in two areas undertaken by the Department of Irrigation, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Department of Mineral Resources and the Army. Thus, the rainfall yesterday had no effect on water level in the cave. However, during this wet season, there is possibility that water level in the cave could reach the location of those affected and leave less than 10 square meters of dry area.
4. The Center has been working to maintain oxygen level in the cave by pumping more fresh air into the cave and withdrawing some officials from the third chamber. Closed areas normally contain less oxygen and when the oxygen level decreases lower than 12 per cent, it will be harmful to human body as it will impair brain function and cause shock. If this is coupled with high level of carbon dioxide in the blood, the consequence will be fatal. In this regard, the Center has reserved spare oxygen tanks for those affected under supervision of four officials.
5. Regarding the rescue plan to evacuate the youth soccer team and coach back through the cave entrance, the supporting factor is the water level inside the cave which should be as low as possible. Currently it is possible to walk from the cave entrance to the third chamber. Therefore, the circumstance is appropriate if there is no further rainfall. Moreover, the health of the youth soccer team and the coach is in good condition.
6. The rescue mission is carried out in a race with time and water level. The Center has invited hundreds of experts to give counsel. Any decision is made by taking every recommendation of the experts into consideration. The Center views that these 2-3 days have the best circumstance to operate the rescue mission. Two more teams of foreign experts are on their way to provide additional expertise and assistance. The Center will select the option with the least chance of risk and will do its best to prevent any recurrence of loss as in the unfortunate case of Petty Officer First Class Saman Kunan. The Center seeks cooperation and understanding from those who have no responsibility in the rescue mission for the necessity of the Center to implement zoning measures in front of the cave to maintain order and keep space to facilitate the operation of the officials.
Department of Information
7 July 2018