Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Former navy diver dies during Thailand cave rescue effort

Former navy diver dies during Thailand cave rescue effort

Authorities overseeing the rescue operation for 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand said they have a "limited amount of time" to get them out, as they raced against worsening weather and lessening oxygen underground.

Sustained heavy rains could make the water rise to the shelf where the children are sitting, reducing the area to "less than 10 square meters", he added, citing estimates from cave divers and experts.

Time is running out on a plan to teach the boys - some as young as 11 and not strong swimmers - to make a dive through dark, narrow passageways sometimes no more than two-feet (0.6- metre) wide, that have challenged some of the world's leading cave divers.

The soccer team disappeared on June 23 and were later found stranded in a small chamber of the flooded Tham Luang cave complex, capturing the world's attention and fascination.

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

The children are learning to dive but former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan died while supplying the group with oxygen canisters, raising fears the frail boys will be even more vulnerable.

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"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", he said.

"I love you father and mother and Toy". I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken.

"Don't worry, I'm fine".

"Don't worry dad and mum", said a note from one of the boys who gave his nickname as "Bew".

Dad and mom are waiting to set up your birthday party.

"What we worry most is the weather", Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn told The Associated Press.

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

"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crews are taking good care".

Technology guru Elon Musk, who is consulting on possible rescue methods, tweeted that he was considering "a tiny, kid-size submarine" for a rescue. When the rescue mission for the soccer team was announced a number of former SEALS in a group chat sent around the message "See you in Chiang Rai", according to a translation of the post by The Guardian.

While the oxygen level had stabilised he warned levels of carbon dioxide in the cave were another factor in considering when to move the group, in addition to impending rains, which could cover much of the muddy ledge on which the group are sheltering.

"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologise to the parents".

Over the past couple of weeks, officials had been exploring different ways to get the boys out, including drilling down into the cave or looking at other entrances to the mountainside.

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Above ground, a huge military and civilian operation is racing against the clock to bring the boys out. He also offered suggestions on how to improve the rescue effort.

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