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Thailand cave rescue: 5 things to know

A soccer team and their coach who are trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand have garnered international attention as rescuers work to save them.

The group of boys and their coach disappeared at the end of June and were found alive earlier this week. Although they’ve been discovered, rescue efforts have been challenging as weather and dangerous pathways complicate the operation.

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Here are five things to know about the rescue. 

Who is trapped?

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Twelve young boys on the Wild Boars soccer team, aged 11 to 16, and their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, disappeared after they entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai to go exploring. 

Related: Soccer team trapped Thai cave send handwritten letters to family, coach apologizes to parents

The boys and their coach are known to be a tight-knit group that goes on adventures, including swimming in waterfalls, cycling trips through the mountains, river rafting and cave exploring, The Associated Press reported.

How did they get trapped?

On June 23, they disappeared when flooding trapped them. Thai Navy SEAL divers discovered the boys and their coach alive 10 days later on July 2 after they had been totally cut off from the outside world.

What condition is the team in?

Video taken inside the cave on July 2 showed the boys and their coach interacting with the rescuers, who were sent to supply them, provide medical care and keep them company, according to The AP

Related: Photos: Rescuers work to free soccer team, coach trapped in Thai cave

The members of the group  are visibly skinny and weak. However, the boys and their coach appeared to be in good spirits.

Why is the rescue operation taking so long? 

The only way out of the cave at this time would be for the boys to dive through the same route they entered, which includes narrow passageways that are extremely dangerous, The AP reported. However, rescuers are reconsidering this route, because oncoming storms could worsen the floods.

Furthermore, CNN reported, oxygen levels have dropped 15 percent, which could cause hypoxia. A diver, identified as former Sgt. Saman Kunan, died due to a lack of air during his return to a command center, according to Chiang Rai Deputy Gov. Passakorn Boonyalak.

How long can the team survive in the conditions? 

Although officials initially thought the team could remain trapped for up to four months until waters lowered, the dropped oxygen levels have caused them to reconsider, CNN reported. Rescuers did not say how long those trapped could survive with current levels. As of July 7, the team has been trapped for 15 days.

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