3Rescue efforts for boys in Thai cave have begun: mission chief

Thailand cave rescue thailand thai soccer team thai soccer team stuck football team trapped

Thailand cave rescue thailand thai soccer team thai soccer team stuck football team trapped

Authorities in Thailand say twelve boys and their coach trapped inside a cave are not ready for a unsafe dive through the flooded narrow passage.

But rescue officials fear their options are running out given fresh monsoon rains are forecast for the coming days.

More than 100 exploratory holes had also been bored - some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep - into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into a unsafe dive through submerged tunnels.

Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says it is "not suitable" to make the boys dive to safety yet.

"We have to make a clear decision on what we can do".

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped for two weeks - since June 23, when they went exploring in northern Thailand's Tham Luang Nang Non cave after a practice game.

Torrential rain pounded the area for around half an hour last night, highlighting the urgency.

But as recently as two days ago officials said while it was now possible for rescuers to walk about 1.5 kilometres to the third chamber - the main staging point for rescuers - huge volumes of water remained in the cave.

Admiral Arpakorn Yuukongkaew said: "We won't let his life be in vain". "When oxygen in our blood is low, more carbon dioxide will enter the blood stream".

Pumps have been slowly lowering the water level in the cave, but efforts have been set back every time there has been a heavy rain.

But if heavy rains start again, divers will try to remove the boys right away.

The boys, he added, "cannot dive at this time" and are not ready to make the nearly six-hour journey out of the cave.

But his comments 12 hours later suggest the thinking has changed, with water levels inside the cave now managed to their lowest point by constant drainage. "At 10 am today (0300 GMT) 13 foreign divers went in to extract the children along with 5 Thai navy SEALs".

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"It doesn't matter how long I wait as long as he is safe".

A team of Thai Navy SEALs, soldiers, police and volunteers have been working around the clock to drain the cave.

"I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister".

Pong: I love Dad and Mum.

Coach: To all parents, now the kids are fine.

Nattawut "Tle" Takamsai, 14, bravely assured his family that he can take care of himself; while Ekkarat "Bill" Wongsookchan, 14, promised his parents to help them at the shop.

"On behalf of the worldwide football community, I would like to join you in expressing my deepest sympathies and support to the families of the players and coach, as well as my solidarity with the people of Thailand at this time of great concern".

Their plight has transfixed Thailand and the rest of the world, as authorities have struggled to devise a plan to get the boys and their coach out through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways that in some places are completely flooded. The same day saw a disheartening setback with the death of a former Thai navy SEAL diving in flooded passageways to deliver oxygen supplies.

Saman Kunan had been trying to establish the air line when he passed out and perished. Speaking to The Washington Post, Thai SEAL commander Apakorn Yookongkaew said that divers would take extra precautions with the boys to prevent injuries or fatalities.

A miracle, finally: the 12 boys and their coach are found alive late Monday evening about 400 metres beyond Pattaya Beach - which had become threatened by encroaching flood waters.

The coach's role in the team's predicament has split Thai social media.

"When we get out of here, we want to eat many things".

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