This map shows what a huge challenge it will be to rescue the soccer team stuck in a Thai cave system

Linh Pham/Getty ImagesRelatives of the missing boys show photos of them after the 12 boys and their soccer coach have been found alive in the cave where they’ve been missing for over a week.
  • A soccer team and its coach are stranded in a partially flooded cave system in northern Thailand.
  • Authorities say they need to either learn to dive or wait months for flooding to subside before they can leave.
  • The map shows how complicated it will be to get them out.

A soccer team stranded in a Thai cave system for more than a week was found relatively healthy on Monday, but it may take months to get everyone out.

Authorities say the only ways the 12 teenage boys and their coach can escape will be by learning to scuba dive, getting dragged out by divers, or waiting months for the flooding that trapped them in the cave to subside.

The Tham Luang cave system in the Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand is a complex series of tunnels that are now partially flooded:

Thai Cave Map Skye Gould/Business Insider

The boys, who are ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were found alive on an elevated dry rock about 2 1/2 miles from the mouth of the cave after nine days of searches.

It was particularly difficult for the rescuers to locate them because the cave system consists of dark, narrow bends that sometimes fit only one person, Ben Reymenants, one of the divers involved in the search, told Sky News.

It took the divers at least four hours to swim to the point in the cave system where the team was located, he said.

“This is one of the more extreme cave dives that I have done,” Reymenants added. “It is very far, and very complex. There is current. The visibility can be zero at times.”

Thailand cave water pumpLinh Pham/GettyRescuers at the entrance of the Tham Luang cave network on Monday.

The group entered the cave on June 23, the BBC reported. It was most likely dry when they entered, but rushing waters later clogged the way back with mud and debris.

Water levels in the cave are expected to rise as the summer goes on, as Thailand’s rainy season usually lasts from May until October.

Divers are supplying the group with food and medicine, Thailand’s Navy SEALs said on Facebook.

Two Thai medical workers have also joined the cave’s occupants to keep them company and monitor their health, the SEALs added.

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