The British Cave Rescue Council, an organization of experienced cave divers, has played a lead role in a difficult rescue mission that has thus far recovered 11 young boys from a flooded cave.
The saga of a Thai youth soccer team that somehow ended up trapped in a cave—but, miraculously, has survived despite being stuck a kilometer under the surface for weeks—has grabbed the world’s attention in recent days.
And despite the challenge of the underground rescue, 11 of the young boys, aged 11 to 16, have made it out of the flooded cave system so far. One more, along with their coach, remain underground. The boys ended up there after they visited the cave in a post-practice excursion and a flood trapped them underground.
Members of the British Cave Rescue Council, a donation-supported group that represents voluntary underground search and rescue operations, have played a significant role in the rescue mission.
After a nine-day search, two such cave divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, were able to reach the young boys earlier this month, and according to The Guardian, they have more than 35 years of experience in assisting with cave dives.
“They managed to dive the last section and get through into the chamber where the missing party were on a ledge above the water,” said Bill Whitehead, the vice-chair of the council, in comments to the publication.
So how’d the British cave divers get to Thailand? A third British cave diver, Vernon Unsworth, can be credited for leading to that decision. Unsworth currently lives in Thailand and convinced authorities to bring in the help, per The Telegraph.
The team of British cave divers, seven in all, are well-suited to the complex, technical operation, which is very challenging work being undertaken on a voluntary basis.
“They are diving daily, for long periods, in very challenging and hazardous conditions and need full rest and recuperation in the short time between dives,” a spokesman for the council told The Guardian. “Clear judgment and physiological recovery are essential for their personal safety and effectiveness in the operation to rescue the boys.”