Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Thai cave rescue: Foreign divers, SEALs begin operation for trapped boys, coach

Thai cave rescue: Foreign divers, SEALs begin operation for trapped boys, coach

Twelve Thai boys trapped in a cave have exchanged emotional letters with their parents, for the first time since their ordeal began two weeks ago.

Nasan Konkayan, team leader of the bird's nest collectors, said they hiked from the top of the cave to where they believed the boys were stuck below, but could not find an opening. The monsoon rains are expected to begin in the region within a day.

The 12 boys and their coach were exploring the cave when they became trapped by flood waters on 23 June. Queue said Thai officials came to him and his other teammates for information about the cave, asking about which route they usually took and what the conditions were like inside. Relatives start to keep a vigil outside the cave.

Saman resigned from the Thai military in 2006 before working at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport, according to a post on the Thai Navy SEALs Facebook page, which said he was a triathlete and a "skilled and able diver".

The boys are believed to have retreated further into the cave to an elevated air pocket called "Pattaya Beach".

Several rescuers can be seen struggling through dark, narrow passages. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families and communities and we hope that they will soon be embracing their loved ones and restoring their strength and confidence. "Soldiers, SEALS and villagers to pump water for you".

Another, of indistinct origin, asked their teacher not to give them a lot of homework.

Narongsak acknowledged that the air supply inside the cave is "a big problem".

Water and time remain the two difficulties facing rescuers.

Players from teams including England and Sweden have recorded good luck video messages for the trapped boys, and Federation Internationale de Football Association has invited the 13 to the World Cup final should they be rescued in time and are healthy enough to travel. Queue said he wept upon hearing the good news. But attention turns to the hard task of getting the boys out safely.

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

"The kids are healthy, coherent, having fun, playing with each other - they have some minor cuts and minor injuries only", said Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn on Saturday.

After a short deluge of rain on Saturday night and with more bad weather forecast, Narongsak on Sunday said authorities had to act immediately.

But late Friday the authorities said they are not ready to dive out.

A team of bird's nest collectors had scoured the mountainside for openings on Thursday.

Tragedy strikes: a diver helping to establish an airline to the boys dies after passing out while returning from the chamber.

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work", Navy Seal commander Apakorn Yookongkaew said, adding that rescuers have "a limited time" to extract the boys. He warns the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is "limited", in the first official admission that they can not wait out the monsoon underground.

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are ideal [for evacuation] in terms of the water, the weather, and the boys' health", Narongsak Osottanakorn, the chief of the rescue operation, told reporters. The team's coach also offered his "apologies" to the parents in a separate letter.

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