Israeli rescuer predicts Thai cave rescue will take week as new video emerges
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Israeli rescuer predicts Thai cave rescue will take week as new video emerges

Clip shows group laughing and in good health; authorities say waiting for cave to drain could take months, but youths trapped for nine days can't swim

In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Thai Navy Seal, Thai boys are with Navy SEALs inside the cave, Mae Sai, northern Thailand. (Thai Navy Seal via AP)
In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Thai Navy Seal, Thai boys are with Navy SEALs inside the cave, Mae Sai, northern Thailand. (Thai Navy Seal via AP)

An Israeli rescuer involved in efforts to extract a boys soccer team and their coach trapped in a Thai cave predicted the group would be freed within a week, as new video emerged showing them in good spirits after their astonishing discovery by divers nine days after going missing.

In a heartening message to families waiting in anguish outside, the Thai Navy SEAL footage features 11 of the 12-strong team, each makes a traditional Thai greeting gesture to the camera before introducing themselves by nickname and saying “I’m in good health.”

Several of the boys in the frame are wearing protective foil blankets and are accompanied by a smiling diver in a wetsuit.

Their 25-year-old coach, who accompanied the boys down the cave after football training on June 23, is not heard in the footage, published on the Thai Navy Facebook page.

หลังได้ทานอาหารเพิ่มพลังงานที่หน่วยซีลดำน้ำนำเข้าไป และแพทย์ทหารที่ผ่านการฝึกในหลักสูตรนักทำลายใต้น้ำจู่โจมตรวจร่างกายทีมหมูป่าทุกคนแล้ว น้องๆส่งเสียงทักทายผู้คนที่รอคอยอยู่นอกถ้ำฝากมาครับ(บันทึกภาพ 03/07/18)#ทีมหมูป่าทีมSEAL#ThainavySEAL

Posted by Thai NavySEAL on Tuesday, 3 July 2018

It is the second video to delight a Thai nation that has held its breath for a successful outcome to a complex rescue kilometers inside one of the country’s longest caves.

The one-minute clip ends on a jovial note, with one of the 12 young footballers saying he was forgotten in the round of introductions, sparking laughter.

The boys appear relaxed and much more alert than when they were discovered late Monday by British divers, as they took shelter from surging underground waters on a muddy ledge.

Outside the cave one of the boys’ mothers teared-up as she watched the clip on a television screen, saying she was “glad” for a glimpse her son.

“He is thinner” she said as she ran her finger over his image — a sign of the heartache the saga has brought to relatives of the trapped 13.

Several Navy SEAL divers have deployed along with medics, while the challenging process of evacuating the “Wild Boar” team begins.

A Thai rescuer walks near where water is pumped from a flooded cave after all 12 boys and their soccer coach were found alive, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand July 3, 2018. (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Thai authorities say the focus is now building up the boys’ physical and mental strength after an ordeal that has left them emaciated.

Next they have three main options: diving out of the cave system, exiting through another hole if one can be found — or drilled — or waiting out the rainy season underground.

Experts say diving out is laden with risk — more so as the boys have never dived before and my not be able to swim.

Areas of the cave remain submerged and the murky waters are very difficult to navigate, even if the boys are given good equipment and a crash-course in how to dive.

The last option could be protracted as the monsoon begins to bite and officials say they have stored food, medicine and equipment to last for up to four months at an underground base.

In this photo released by the Thailand Department of National Parks and Wildlife, June 27, 2018, rescue personnel search for alternate entrances to a cave where 12 boys of a soccer team and their coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. (Thailand Department of National Parks and Wildlife via AP)

However Yuval Zalmanov, who is taking part in the rescue efforts for Israeli company Maxtech, which manufactures emergency communications devices, said he thought the group would make it out in a matter of days.

Yuval Zalmanov speaking to Israeli TV from Thailand, July 3, 2018. (screen capture: Channel 10)

“There are a few ideas to rescue them, some of them are longer and some are shorter. I think it won’t take more than a week,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 news on Tuesday.

He did not say what he based his assessment on.

Zalmanov said Maxtech had managed to set up a wireless communication system in “almost no time” upon reaching the site.

“This is the only communication device rescuers have,” he said. “It’s an Israeli technology that we’re very proud of, that we are able to help them.”

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