February 18, 2019

Thai cave rescue site cleared to 'help victims'

08 July 2018, 09:32 | Anna Jefferson

Diver dies in Thailand cave rescue operation - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Former Thai navy SEAL working to rescue soccer team trapped in a cave has died

"Some of the chimneys are as deep as 400 metres. but they still can not find their location", Narongsak Osottanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai province told reporters, according to AFP. And they also wouldn't mind having some fried chicken ready for when they get home.

The lead rescue official, who served as governor of Chiang Rai province until a preplanned transfer last week, said the boys and their coach will be moved using a common cave exploration method called "buddy diving", chaperoned by experts who will navigate them through the waters.

Thirteen foreign divers, five Thai divers and five Navy SEALSs have been sent in to extract the group.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with the 25-year-old after soccer practice on Jun 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near by the border with Myanmar.

"At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time. but now things have changed, we have a limited time", Apakorn Yookongkaew told reporters.

A rescue mission has begun to evacuate a youth football team and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand, where they have been trapped for two weeks.

In a letter of his own, the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal.

The boys and their coach have been trapped in the cave since June 23 when monsoon flooding cut them off.

The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he said.

It has been suggested that they may need to learn how to scuba dive in order to escape, but none of the children can swim and cave diving is a notoriously risky sport, as emphasised by the death of one of their rescuers, Saman Gunan, a former navy diver, in the caves on Friday. The rescue effort would likely involve scuba-diving them out of the waterlogged cavern where they have been stranded, a diver at the scene said Saturday, but details of any operation Sunday remained unclear. "Thanks for helping and taking care of the kids".

With oxygen levels dropping and rain forecast, little time was available to teach the boys - some as young as 11 and not strong swimmers - to make a dive through narrow, waterlogged passageways that would challenge experienced cavers.

The oxygen level in the cavern, which has been measured as low as 15 percent, remains a major concern, he said.

Another wrote: "Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings".

Katadzic has not dived the final kilometre to where the boys are stranded on a muddy bank, the most unsafe part of the dive, during which rescuers have to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them to squeeze through submerged holes.

Authorities are also looking at alternative options like finding a shaft or drilling into the mountain to create the equivalent of a "back door" into the cave. The 13 were having health evaluations and rehabilitation, and were being taught diving skills.

"We estimate that (they) are 600 meters down, but we don't know the (exact) target", he said.

On Friday, a former Thai Navy SEAL died while returning from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave where the boys are located.

A spokeswoman for the Boring Company who declined to be named said it is in talks with the Thai government and people on the ground to determine how they could best assist their efforts.

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