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|Tham Luang Nang Non|
Tham Nam Cham
Cave entrance in 2018
|Location||Tham Luang–Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand|
|Depth||85 metres (279 ft)|
|Length||10.3 kilometres (6.4 mi)|
|Elevation||446 metres (1,463 ft)|
|Access||Tours available (Nov – June)|
|Lighting||None (before the rescue operation)|
Tham Luang Nang Non (Thai: ถ้ำหลวงนางนอน, lit. 'Great Cave of the Sleeping Lady', pronounced [tʰâm lǔaŋ nāːŋ nɔ̄ːn]) is a karstic cave system in the Tham Luang–Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, near the village of Pong Pha, in northern Thailand. It lies beneath Doi Nang Non, a mountain range on the border with Myanmar.
On 2 July 2018, the cave was brought to international prominence when twelve members of a junior association football team and their assistant coach were found deep inside the cave. They had become trapped due to monsoonal flooding on 23 June. A rescue effort succeeded in bringing them out safely by 10 July. One Thai rescue diver died in the attempt.
The cave is also known as Tham Luang (Thai: ถ้ำหลวง, lit. 'great cave'), Tham Nam Cham (Thai: ถ้ำน้ำจำ, lit. 'Nam Cham cave'), and Tham Yai (Thai: ถ้ำใหญ่, lit. 'big cave'). Since 'Tham' means 'cave', the commonly used phrase Tham Luang cave is tautological.
|Map, from above, of the Tham Luang cave system, provided by BBC News|
|Map, side view, of the Tham Luang cave system, provided by Deutsche Welle|
The cave's main entrance chamber is 80 metres (260 ft) long. It winds through 10.3 kilometres (6.4 mi) of limestone strata and has many deep recesses, narrow tunnels, boulder chokes, collapses, and sumps. Stalactites and stalagmites are found throughout the cave. There is a permanent stream inside the cave, which enters from the west, flows with the passage for several metres, and exits via the eastern wall. A team of French cavers made the first survey of Tham Luang's main cave in 1986 and 1987. Further surveys were done in 2014 and 2015 by the British cavers Vern Unsworth, Martin Ellis, Phil Collett, and Rob Harper.
A visitor centre outside the main entrance has a detailed map of the cave. There is a car park nearby. The first 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) of the cave is open to the public for guided tours between November and June. The cave floods during rainy season and is closed to visitors.
In 2018, twelve boys aged 11 to 17, all members of a junior association football team, and their 25-year-old male assistant coach were stranded in the cave for 18 days by a flood. They were rescued in a massive joint operation between the Thai government, the Thai military, and a group of international expert cave divers. British divers found them on a muddy ledge in darkness more than 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from the entrance nine days into their ordeal. The effort to save their lives was a global operation watched around the world. In all, 90 divers – 50 of whom were foreigners – helped to extract the group. An ex-navy diver, Saman Kunan, died during the mission because he ran out of air, having placed air tanks along the route to the boys.