Quang Binh (VNA) – Howard Limbert, a British caver who has spent the last 30 years of his life in central Quang Binh province and studying the caves in Vietnam, and Nguyen Chau A, Director of Oxalis Company, are heading to Thailand’s Chiang Rai province on July 4 to offer their assistance to a group of young boys that have been trapped in a cave for over nine days.

A team of rescuers, including members of the Thai Royal Army and others from at least six countries such as the UK, the US and China, located the youngsters on July 2 night.

The 12 boys aged 11 to 16 and their 25-year-old coach were found at a higher ground about 400m away from the first predicted location after their nine days trapped inside Tham Luang cave.

“They are lucky the cave is warm because caves in other parts of the world, it would have been difficult to survive that length of time,” Howard said exclusively to Vietnam News in an e-mail.

Limbert found Son Doong – the world’s biggest cave – in Quang Binh province in 2006. He praised the expertise of British cavers, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, both experts on cave rescues, who had taken part in many rescue dives in the past.

“The British cave divers are the best in the world and if they couldn’t find them, no one could,” Limbert continued. “Thai authorities were very sensible in arranging the British divers to help out.”

He added that he was positive “the boys will recover well when they are back with their families.”

But he also warned of difficulties for a full rescue. “Good news is that they have found the boys safe but still difficult times ahead,” he wrote, but declined to elaborate until further details are known.

Governor of Chiang Rai province Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on July 3 that it would take time to get the cave-trapped boys and their football coach out as the team are exhausted and the cave is deeply submerged.

The governor said they are all safe, but the rescue mission is not completed and there are still challenges ahead in bringing them out of the flooded cave in Mae Sai district.

He said the boys were exhausted given the fact that they were there without food and water for almost 10 days, adding that 16 Thai Navy SEAL divers have been sent to the location to stay with the boys, to keep tabs on their health and prepare them for evacuation. The divers took some special food such as power gel and water for them.

Narongsak said the process to prepare the boys for evacuation would take a few days and the best way is still being considered. Meanwhile, other efforts to access the cave, such as drilling through the cave roof, and finding alternative passages, as well as draining water out of the cave, will continue.

Located in the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, Tham Luang cave is an adventure tourism destination in Thailand. It is often closed during the raining season from July to December. Visitors are allowed to enter maximum 700m deep into the cave.-VNA.