Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

When will the boys be rescued?

When will the boys be rescued?

The rescuer, identified as a 37-year-old Samarn Poonan, was working as a volunteer, SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew told a news conference on Friday morning.

Oxygen levels are decreasing because of the number of workers inside the cave and they were trying to run an oxygen line into the chambers in addition to the oxygen canisters used by divers. Rescuers have sent in food, water and medical staff while they have been pumping water out of the tunnels in a bid to lower water levels to help with the rescue. The usual level is about 21%.

Thai rescuers are assisted by an worldwide search team comprising experts from China, Australia, the U.S. and Britain.

The risks were re-emphasised by the death in the early hours of Friday of a former navy Seal, Saman Kunan, 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.

They became trapped after rain flooded the Tham Luang caves near Mae Sai and were not found for more than a week.

"See you tonight at Tham Luang", said an upbeat Saman, referring to the cave complex, before signing off on the video clip and setting off for the province of Chiang Rai on the Myanmar border.

Professional cave divers from Europe are making the risky dives with a contingent of Thai navy SEALs.

Rain is expected to rain nearly every day in July and August, the organization's website said. The idea is to get some headroom so the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.

Senior Thai army officer Chalongchai Chaiyakum said up to 200 people were exploring the hill to try to find a shaft. "He's thinner", she said, as she ran her finger over the image of her son on a television screen.

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The plan now is to have the boys swim out of the cave with divers, although heavy monsoon rain expected this weekend may cause flooding in the cave that could trap the boys for some time.

In addition, some areas where diving is necessary are tight and may require the boys to swim through murky waters unaccompanied. Another option would be to drill a hole into the cave and airlift the boys out.

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

The search operation would go on, said Adm Arpakorn. "It's part of the job".

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work", Navy SEAL commander Apakorn vowed.

His death highlights the difficulties facing authorities as they contemplate ways to rescue the team.

The oxygen level in the chamber where the boys have taken refuge has fallen to 15%, officials said at a news conference.

In the first official admission that the team can not wait out the monsoon underground, the commander indicated that rescuers may have little choice but to attempt the tricky extraction of the group.

"We originally thought the young boys could stay safe inside the cave for quite a long time but circumstances have changed".

"The boys are not suitable...(they) can not dive at this time", Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is leading the operation, told reporters just after midnight in English.

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