The discovery of 12 Thai boys and their coach still alive after 10 days trapped in a flooded cave has brought massive relief to their families and an anxious nation—but the military warns that their ordeal could be only just beginning. The group, discovered by two British divers late Monday, are on a dry rock ledge around 2.5 miles from the mouth of the cave, and the Thai military says it could be months before it can get them out, unless the boys learn to dive, the BBC reports. The cave in northern Thailand often remains flooded until the end of the rainy season in September or October, meaning the youth soccer team and their coach may need to have food and other supplies sent in for the next four months.
Experts warn that it could be very difficult to get the boys, ages 11 to 16, to safety through miles of dark, narrow, flooded tunnels. "Trying to take non-divers through a cave is one of the most dangerous situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy," US National Cave Rescue Commission coordinator Anmar Mirza tells the AP. Thai officials say they're committed to "100% safety" and will continue to explore their options, including draining water from the cave system and searching for shafts that could provide an alternative escape route. Officials say the boys are hungry and weak but in stable medical condition with only minor injuries. They have been provided with high-protein liquid food and will be given more supplies and visited by doctors in the days to come. (Read more Thailand stories.)