The whole world followed their fate, and Elon Musk and the Russian Emergency Ministry offered their help.
On June 23, a football team consisting of 12 schoolchildren and their coach went to the Tham-Luang cave complex and found themselves in a trap: the entrances to the cave flooded because of the rainy season that had begun. Employees of the national park discovered an abandoned motorcycle and bicycles and began a search operation.
The search attracted more than a thousand people , including military, police, volunteers and specialists from different countries. After 9 days, British amateur divers, John Volanten and Richard Stanton, found the schoolchildren and coach alive, although the group spent all this time without food . They began to deliver oxygen and provisions, and Thai authorities began to think about how to evacuate teenagers.
The operation was completed only on July 10, when the last child and 25-year-old coach were removed from the cave. This was preceded by several days of training and the death of one of the divers involved in the rescue of children.
Schoolchildren could leave in the cave for 4 months
Immediately after the group was discovered, the rescuers began to think about how to get the teenagers out of the cave. It was not easy: most schoolchildren did not even know how to swim , not to dive underwater.
Saving children in this way was dangerous, besides the conditions in the flooded cave were far from ideal. In the water mixed with mud, it was not visible, and some places were filled with stones and the passage was so narrow that the divers sailed without any part of the equipment.
But the main problem was what distance would the students have to do underwater: they were in an air pocket in the middle of a 7 km long cave complex .
Even professional divers needed about six hours to swim in one direction, and each dive was fraught with a deadly risk – one of the rescuers died on the way back after the delivery of the oxygen tank.
Among other things, there were many places with fast currents in the caves, and it was difficult for the exhausted schoolchildren to move around. International experts said that the option with diving should be used last .
When a person is in conditions of zero visibility, when he is not adapted to such conditions, chances are that he will start to panic and kill either himself or rescuers
Because of the high danger of this kind of rescue, the Thai authorities first also considered the option of supporting schoolchildren with supplies and oxygen for four months – until the rainy season ends. They tried to pump out the water with pumps, but they did not solve the problem completely, although they allowed the rescuers to reach the schoolchildren.
Soon the Thai military said that staying in the caves for children is the worst scenario. In addition to the need for four months to risk the lives of rescuers delivering food to schoolchildren, oxygen could suddenly end in the cave and there was a threat of the final flooding of the air pocket. After that, the Thai authorities began to search for small-size breathing musks and began to discuss other methods of evacuation.
Helped by Elon Musk and EMERCOM of Russia
On July 4, Elon Musk was asked on Twitter whether he could help in saving the Thai schoolchildren. He came up with several options, including tunnel drilling, and sent the engineers of The Boring Company and SpaceX to Thailand.
At the same time, EMERCOM of Russia offered its help: the press service of the ministry said that it is ready to assist rescuers in Thailand if the authorities of the country apply to Russia.
On July 8, Elon Musk told that SpaceX engineers will build a small submarine from the details of the Falcon rocket in a short time to evacuate the schoolchildren. He noted that this option is coordinated with the Thai authorities and is considered as the main one. As other methods, a nylon tube, inflated with air, was considered.
The next day, the businessman showed the test of a submarine in one of the pools in Los Angeles. In it was able to fit an adult man, who carried two divers.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
On July 10, the businessman flew to Thailand personally and descended into a cave where divers are based. He brought a SpaceX submarine, named after the school football team – Wild Boar.
Musk said that she is ready to use and he will leave it in Thailand, but to save the students the submarine was not useful.
The Thai authorities decided to act because of the weather
A few hours after Elon Musk announced plans to build a submarine, the rescuers began to act without his help. Eight people were taken out in the first two days of the operation, and on the last day the remaining five members of the group were evacuated.
Musk claimed that his plan was coordinated with the authorities, but the situation probably changed due to forecasts of increased rains. Rescuers decided to start an emergency operation to have time to withdraw the children, who a few days before they began to conduct express courses on diving. They considered the use of the submarine “inexpedient”.
The entrepreneur noted that the team of divers is “incredibly talented,” and said that he was surprised at the “courage, perseverance and perseverance” of children and rescuers. Musk explained that even if his submarine is not useful now, it will come in handy in other similar situations, and with minor modifications can be used in outer space.
What will happen to school children now?
After the evacuation from the cave, all the teenagers and their coach were taken to the helicopter and taken directly to the hospital. According to the Ministry of Health of Thailand, all the rescued schoolchildren feel good and they have a healthy appetite.
Preliminary blood tests showed the presence of pneumonia in some school children, so the group will spend the next week in quarantine. So far, their diet is limited, but it includes oatmeal, bread and a little chocolate.
The children managed to see their parents through the glass. Probably, in the next few weeks the children will have physical and psychological rehabilitation.