Boys and coach missing in Thai cave found alive

Thailand cave rescue efforts pick up pace as flooding eases

"But the operation isn't over", Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osotthanakorn was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

The team were found by a pair of British volunteer cave divers in a partially flooded cave Monday, 10 days after they entered the Tham Luang complex in Northern Thailand. They ask what day it is.

The global rescue operation - which included the Thai Navy SEALs as well as experts from the US, China, Australia and the United Kingdom - had been working to reach a large, deep chamber, informally named Pattaya Beach, where they believed the missing boys had taken refuge. It was most likely dry when they entered, but rushing waters later clogged the way back with mud and debris.

Rescuers are seen outside the Tham Luang caves, where 13 members of an-under 16 soccer team are trapped, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand on June 25, 2018.

The discovery of their abandoned bikes, as well as footprints, handprints and belongings in the cave early in the week indicated that they had gone further inside the cave to avoid the flood. A government official says the group has been found alive.

Twelve young footballers and their assistant coach survived being trapped for 10 days in Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai by minimizing their movements and drinking water that dripped from limestone. They again reached the chamber on Sunday, said the Seals commander Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew.

As part of the rescue effort, search parties have been lowered down shafts on the mountainside, but it was unclear what progress they had made, or exactly where they were in relation to the "Pattaya Beach" chamber.

Capt. Jessica Tait with the U.S. Air Force was one of 35 Americans who helped in the rescue effort.

"But time is not on their side", he noted, because of the heavy rain forecast. The reference to four months most likely means authorities are considering waiting until the rainy season ends in October to begin the rescue.

Narongsak said Tuesday that the missing were given high-protein liquid food, painkillers and antibiotics. "So I can not give an answer to confirm how many days the kids will have to stay in the cave". One option being considered is for the group to be taught to swim using special breathing masks.

Rescue divers had spent much of Monday making preparations for a final push to locate the missing, efforts that had been hampered much of the week by flooding that made moving through tight passageways filled with muddy water hard.

Tinnakorn Boonpiem, whose 12-year-old son Mongkol is among the 13, told AFP news agency near the caves she was "so glad" to hear they were safe.

"The British team was so determined that they refused to give an interview to anyone", said Pipob. "Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain hard and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider".

The boys and their coach are "located in a relatively small space and this would make any potential drilling attempt as a means of rescue very hard", the British Cave Rescue Council told the AP.

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