Musk, World Cup squads, FIFA offer help, support to rescue Thai boys trapped in cave

Published 06.07.2018 15:24
Updated 06.07.2018 15:30
Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. (FILE Photo)
Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. (FILE Photo)

Following the first death in the massive rescue operation inside and around Tham Luang Nang Non cave to extract 12 boys and their football coach trapped inside for nearly two weeks, entrepreneurs, football teams and international organizations have offered Thai authorities their help, support and expertise to get them out of the cave fast.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that engineers from his firms - SpaceX and The Boring Company - were heading to Thailand to see if they could assist the rescue. He said engineers from his Boring Co and SpaceX companies needed to be on site to appreciate the complexities of evacuation.

The muddy bank where the boys are stranded is some 4 km (2.5 miles) from the front entrance of the cave, with sections of the final 1.7-km stretch completely underwater.

Drilling down raises concerns that parts of the cave could collapse on the boys. Efforts to widen diving channels, have raised similar fears about blocking narrow passageways and hemming the team in.

Musk said his firms have "advance ground penetrating radar" that is "pretty good at digging holes" or technology that could "create an air tunnel underwater" constructed with soft tubing like a Bouncy Castle for the children to traverse.

The Thai government said Musk's team could help the rescue operation with location tracking, water pumping or battery power.

The Thai footballers, aged 11-16, have been stuck in darkness deep underground after setting off to explore the cave with their 25-year-old coach after training on June 23.

The players remain trapped despite being reached this week by cave-diving rescuers, who released footage of them looking emaciated but calm, some wearing football shirts.

Their harrowing ordeal coincides with the World Cup in Russia and it has also not escaped the attention of players.

"I've been speaking about it with a few of the boys," said England defender John Stones, according to British media.

"It's so sad to see where they are and we hope they get out safe and sound."

Japan's World Cup squad tweeted a video urging the team to "Hang in there!", while Brazil legend Ronaldo called their plight "terrible".

"The world of football hopes that someone can find a way to take these kids out of there," he said, according to CNN.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp urged them to "stay strong and know we are with you", in a video message sent to CNN.

"We are following all the news and hoping every second that you see daylight again," Klopp said. "We are all very optimistic that it will happen, hopefully in minutes, hours or the next few days."

Meanwhile the Croatian Football Federation said it was "awed" by the team's calm under pressure.

"We are awed by the bravery and strength that these young boys and their coach have shown amidst such frightening circumstances," it said on its website.

"Such situations are larger than sport, but their sport spirits will give them strength to face this challenge," they added.

Many fans on social media said the boys deserved the World Cup trophy for the way they have handled their ordeal.

Amid messages of love and support FIFA also sent a letter to the president of the Football Association of Thailand offering its "deepest sympathies and support" to the families of young players and their coach trapped in the cave in the country's north.

The letter signed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the organization would like to invite the youngsters and their coach to the World Cup final in Russia, should they be rescued in time and are healthy enough to travel.

The team's appearance at the final would "undoubtedly be a wonderful moment of communion and celebration," the letter added.

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