Engineer says rescue tunnel may be possible

CHIANG RAI • The chief engineer involved in the cave rescue mission said he thinks that a team may be able to drill down to where the trapped footballers and their assistant coach are located to get them out, The Guardian reported.

Drilling was previously believed to be too dangerous, given the small space the 12 boys are trapped in, and because they are thought to be between 800m and 1km below the surface.

The Thai authorities are pushing ahead with several different plans to try to reach the boys - including drilling a hole from the jungle to find them.

Mr Thanes Weerasin, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, told The Guardian that he was exploring one particularly promising tunnel with a large hole about 100m into it.

"It is a big hole, about 1.2m by 1m," he said. "You can go down using a rope... I think this place can lead to the children because after your foot touches the ground below, you can walk through using the compass and direct it to the tunnel (where the group is stuck)."

About 20m in the direction of the boys, Mr Weerasin said he reached another hole that was obstructed by a boulder. He wedged a borescope through a gap and saw it extended up to another 10m.

He said that when he lit a fire, smoke flowed quickly through cracks around the boulder, presumably because of the water being pumped from the main cave on the other side.

"I think that is caused by the pumping of the water from the end of the tunnel and outside at the entrance," he said.

He believes the hole could eventually lead to the area past "Pattaya Beach" where the stranded group is sheltering.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2018, with the headline 'Engineer says rescue tunnel may be possible'. Print Edition | Subscribe