Thai officials aim to rescue kids from cave before rain hits

Thai Diver Dies During Cave Rescue Operations

The head of the rescue mission for 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach says "conditions are perfect" for a rescue mission to free the young men from a flooded cave where they are trapped.

"We don't know where to drill a hole so that we can bring them out", Narongsak said. "If there's too much risk we will wait but we can not wait until the rain".

That solution, however, now appears less likely, as authorities have expressed a greater need for urgency because of the coming rains and the dangerously low oxygen levels inside the cave.

The Thai footballers, aged 11-16, have been stuck in darkness deep underground after setting off to explore the cave with their 25-year-old coach after training on June 23. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", Chantawong said in a note given to a diver on Friday and published on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page on Saturday. In a touching reply, the coach apologised to the boys' parents and thanked them for their support.

The boys went missing on June 23 after they had entered the cave in the Chiang Rai region during fine weather but became trapped when a sudden downpour flooded the narrow tunnels.

Another, Tan, wrote: "Mum and Dad don't worry about me, I'm fine".

Duangpetch "Dom" Promthep, 13, called on his parents not to forget to throw him a birthday party.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mum and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine". Some asked for fried chicken, while others simply told their parents that they loved them. Authorities were waiting for two big groups of volunteer divers to arrive later Saturday and Sunday to begin the operation of bringing the team members out.

"I'm anxious about the rain", said Visunlaya Songjang, 59, a volunteer from Mae Sai.

"Mom, Dad, I love you guys, and little sister Toi", wrote Pipat "Nick" Poti, 15.

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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, officials said.

The twelve boys and their coach got caught by flood waters while visiting the Tham Luang cave in the north of the country in late June, launching an worldwide rescue effort.

Experienced divers have to walk on rocky terrain against strong currents, swim and dive in the dark through a labyrinth of passages in murky water for six hours to reach the survivors.

In an update in the early hours of Saturday morning, rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said it was "not suitable" to make the boys dive to safety yet. "At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time... but now things have changed, we have a limited time", Rear Admiral Apakorn Yookongkaew said.

Rescuers have been pumping water around the clock in an effort to drain the deluged cave enough so that the boys can safely exit the cave.

Asked at his midnight news conference about taking the boys out underwater, the governor replied, "Not today because they can not dive at this time".

Meanwhile, the coach has offered his "apologies to the parents" of the boys in a scrawled note released by the Thai Navy.

Tragically, a former Thai Navy diver who joined the ongoing rescue operations died on Friday.

Musk's company, Boring Co, which digs tunnels for transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar, is being utilised to help rescue the team.

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