Thai officials aim to rescue kids from cave before rain hits

Thai officials aim to rescue kids from cave before rain hits

Thai officials aim to rescue kids from cave before rain hits

The coach of the youth football team that has been trapped in a cave in Thailand for the past two weeks has sent his "apologies" to the parents of the boys in a scrawled note handed to divers.

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

He said on Saturday that the ideal time to make a rescue attempt had not yet arrived as the 12 boys, aged 11 to 15, and their 25-year-old coach trapped in the cave needed more time to prepare, and to learn how to dive.

Thai officials said Saturday they are anxious that heavy monsoon rain could soon make the job even more hard and they may need to quickly rescue the boys and the soccer coach from a partially flooded cave by helping them make risky dives to safety.

"To all the parents, all the kids are still fine", wrote Ekkapol Chantawong.

"I can guarantee that three to four days from now is the most favourable time for the operation and rescue mission using one of the action plans". Grandpa, uncle, mum, dad, and siblings I love you all.

Another, named as Tun, wrote: "Mum and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

The death of former Thai navy SEAL Saman Gunan underscored those risks.

Late Friday, Thai officials were still trying to come up with a workable extraction plan for the group trapped for almost two weeks deep inside the cavern, stoking fears that all available options remain too risky.

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. SEAL team is taking care of me very well.

Authorities have been racing to pump out water from the cave before more storms in the coming days raise the water levels again.

Now, Thai officials wrestle with the task of extracting the 13 from the cave.

There has not yet been official confirmation of a rescue attempt, however.

Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy downpour.

The boys are now perched on a dry shelf, but rain could reduce that space to "less than 10 sq m (108 sq ft)", Mr Narongsak said.

Gong Hui, a Chinese diver involved in the operation that has drawn some 130 Thai and global divers, told Reuters on Saturday before the fresh rains that water levels in the cave had "receded a lot" after sustained pumping had removed millions of litres of water.

The announcement came as dark monsoon rainclouds loomed over the mountainous north of the country early on Sunday, potentially heightening risks at the cave where rescuers were still waging a "war with water and time" to save the 12 trapped boys and their assistant coach.

More heavy rain is expected at the weekend, which is set to complicate the rescue effort.

The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route to where the boys and others are sheltered, Thai SEAL commander Rear Adm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew said.

Alternative rescue plans include stocking the cave with supplies and an oxygen line to keep the boys alive for months until Thailand's monsoon season ends, or drilling a shaft down from the forest above.

The strategically placed air canisters allow divers to stay underwater for longer during what is about a five-hour trip to reach the stranded team. On Friday, Tesla founder Elon Musk said he was sending teams from his SpaceX company and Boring Co. engineering firm, which is developing tunneling systems.

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