The public and private sectors have deployed considerable resources in the effort to drain water out of the flooded cave in Chiang Rai province to facilitate the mission to save 13 footballers trapped inside.
Yesterday, nine days after the members of local football team “Mu Pa [wild boar] Academy” went missing in the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, agencies and volunteers have focused on pumping water out of the cave and surrounding areas in order to open the way for the Navy SEAL team to get to the inner areas of the cave. Many locally manufactured high-pressure water pumps able to rapidly move large volumes of water were provided by pumping operators, to complement the water pumps used by official agencies in the drainage mission. Noppadon Niyomka, the village head of Phetchaburi’s Ban Laem district, was among those supplying the high-pressure pumps. He said he and his team brought 12 “Turbo Jet” water pumps, able to move up to 1,000 cubic metres of water per hour.
“Apart from their ability to pump large amounts of water within a short time, these high-pressure water pumps are of modest size and very easy to assemble and install,” Noppadon said. “With their mobility and water-pumping performance … they are suitable to pump out the water directly from inside the Tham Luang cave. They can rapidly drain the floodwater from the submerged parts of the cave and open the way for the Navy SEALs to save the children trapped inside.” He said his Turbo Jet water pumps were modified five years ago by his son, who graduated with a doctoral degree from the United States. Their innovation can be proudly called Thailand’s locally developed water pumping technology, said Noppadon. The modified pumps have already proved themselves in disaster relief situations, he said, as they had been used to drain floodwater from farmlands in many Central region provinces during the flood season. Another private water pump operator from Nakhon Pathom province, Akekachai Sae-Tieaw, also delivered four very large high-pressure water pumps branded as “Palang Zing” (racing performance) and capable of draining up to around 7,200 cubic metres per hour. “We are working with the rescue operation command centre and installed our Palang Zing water pumps at designated water sources outside the cave to increase the natural outflow from the cave network,” Akekachai said. Two of the massive water pumps were placed near the Tham Sai Thong cave, reflecting geographical indications that the water in that cave is connected to the main cave system of the Tham Luang cave, while the other two were stationed at nearby downstream ponds, he explained. The Thai Water Well Association president, Surathin Chaichomphu, said his group has supported the water drainage mission by drilling groundwater wells in the area around the cave as an alternative approach to pumping floodwater out of the cave. Surathin explained that the groundwater is connected to the water in the cave system and as the groundwater level decreases, the floodwater from the cave system will flow underground through gravitational force and fill in the natural groundwater reservoir. The mission to drain water from the Tham Luang cave was spearheaded by three departments – the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), the Mineral Resources Department and the Groundwater Resources Department – said RID director-general Thongplew Kongjun. Thongplew said the RID had already provided 32 water pumps and two electricity generators to work on this mission, while the department’s engineering and geologist teams were supporting a survey of the cave system to find alternative ways to drain the floodwater, along with finding another entry points to the cave to reach the trapped footballers. The combined efforts of the official agencies and private sector contributors is paying off, as the Navy SEALs reported that the floodwater level inside the cave was gradually decreasing and that had allowed them to reach the T-junction inside the cave, bringing them another step closer to reach the trapped victims. BP – EP