The journey out of the cave from the chamber the boys and their coach have been trapped takes even experienced Navy SEAL divers as long as five or six hours to complete. Early Friday, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver died after losing consciousness while returning from placing air tanks deep inside the caves.
Narongsak said Sunday that the decision to try and rescue the boys and their coach on was made because conditions inside the cave were the best they could hope for and that water levels were now so low after days of good weather and constant draining that long stretches of the passage were now walk-able.
Karadzic, the Danish diver, said preparations had been made with air tanks and spaces identified for those being rescued to go if needed.
“We surveyed the cave to find good spots that we could say OK, from this route to this route, if anything unexpected or there’s a panic, we go here, and in this other part, if any panic happens, this is where we’re gonna go,” he said.
Part of the route is carved into roughly quarter-mile sections manned by support divers who studied every stalactite or potentially panic-inducing tight squeeze to avoid. “Communication is difficult, so we plan everything,” Karadzic said. “We look at all the scenarios.”
They were equipped with spare air tanks, regulators, masks and wetsuits, and were prepared to lead the boys to comfortable above-water space if needed, he said, adding that it wasn’t necessary.
“There was anxiety when we started our day, but when we saw the first kid … he was like, no problem at all,” Karadzic recalled. “We asked the escort diver, ‘Did he do anything?’ And he said, ‘No, no, no, he’s just here.'”
Karadzic was hopeful that Monday’s operation would go as smoothly.
“Obviously we need to be careful not to be overconfident,” he said. “But it was just incredibly well planned. We thought of everything that could happen, everything that could break, anything that can go bad.”
Rain was a concern as preparations were made for Sunday’s rescue. Thailand’s Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week, the Associated Press reported.