Published: Wed, June 27, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Navy Seals race to rescue children's football team trapped in Thai cave

Navy Seals race to rescue children's football team trapped in Thai cave

My advice was to leave them there until the waters receded because that is the safest option for the non diver: treat them as being trapped and bring food and what they need to them.

The boys, aged 11 to 15, are believed to have entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave with their coach late Saturday afternoon.

Thai authorities are stepping up their search for a team of young footballers missing in a cave.

One relative fainted while others waited under a makeshift tent near a shrine with dolls, spiritual offerings and messages for the young boys.

Rain that has fallen overnight has increased the difficulty of exploring inside the cave. A mother reported that her son did not return from football practice that day, setting off the search. They played drums and gongs and two relatives held fishing nets as symbols to fish out lost spirits from the cave. Organizer Jiratat Kodyee said the ritual was a traditional way of showing support for the boys' families.

Park officials, local police and 17 members of the SEAL diving team from the Royal Thai Navy have been deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts. "Today we will try to find passages which are under the water that hopefully will lead to other chambers".

However, Tuesday's initial search mission had to be suspended.

"We have found traces of the children's footprints and we believe that they are still alive", said Passakorn Boonyalak, deputy governor of Chiang Rai province, 1,000 kilometres north of Bangkok.

Rising waters on Monday evening frustrated efforts to search farther in the cave, and efforts were halted temporarily.

Mr Narongsak said rescue operations would continue overnight and teams were on standby with supplies.

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"We have drawing out water from the cave, and we're (currently) looking for more water pumps" and long cables with which to power the pumps, he said.

Thinnakorn and the other parents have ignored incessant rain and stayed camped outside the cave in tents since the ordeal began.

Bicycles, backpacks and soccer boots left behind by the boys remained at the entrance of the cave.

At a prayer session the previous evening, some relatives walked inside the cave entrance, where their cries echoed off the walls.

When Pipat failed to come home, his father started calling around to his son's friends, teammates and coaches. Another kneeled down near the bicycles and prayed, asking "Where is my child?"

"My child, I'm here to get you now", one crying parent said, according to footage from local media.

"My son is a strong boy. We're racing against time, and we want them to be safe", he said, adding that the boys had some food with them when they went into the cave.

Rising waters then blocked the path, which is about as wide as a single person, leaving the group stuck inside the cave network, Kamolchai Kotcha, an official with Thailand's national parks authority, told CNN. "We're confident that the kids should still be in good condition".

"The kids have been in the cave before, but they didn't think that going in at this time would be that risky", said Chote Narin, an officer at Mae Sai district police station.

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