Diver dies in Thailand cave rescue attempt

Grant SmithJul 07, 2018

The "Wild Boar" team have been trapped inside the Tham Luang cave complex for two weeks.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain expected by Saturday will nearly surely raise water levels in the cave again, making passage in some areas even more hard, if not impossible.

Narongsak, who is in immediate charge of the operation, indicated at a news conference, however, that if heavy rains started and appeared to be causing flooded areas in the cave to rise again, divers would try to take the boys out right away.

Hundreds of thousands of litres of water are being pumped out of the caves each hour.

Around 1,000 people are involved in the complex rescue operation. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in some narrow flooded passages.

Another option would be to find an alternative way into their chamber, such as drilling a shaft into the cave from the forested mountain above.

The boys, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province after a football game on June 23 but flash flooding cut them off. The way out is a hard dive with many narrow passages through muddy water.

Asked at his midnight news conference about bringing the boys out underwater, the governor replied, "Not today because they can not dive at this time". The boys will have to be taught how to use scuba diving gear and how to navigate a cave that has frustrated even the most expert divers.

The death of former Thai navy SEAL Saman Gunan underscored those risks.

They were found Monday by British divers after being trapped inside without food for nine days.

"Now you're going to ask 11 to (16) year olds - some of whom cannot swim - to make that same journey for the first time breathing air underwater?"

They are being looked after by Thai navy SEALs, including medics, who are staying with them inside the cave.

Each diver reportedly needs to carry three heavy oxygen tanks to the boys' cave but the path is treacherous, winding, and long, taking skilled divers around five hours each way.

While underwater, Saman passed out and efforts to resuscitate him failed, Arpakorn said. Another navy official said he didn't believe the man's oxygen tank ran out. But, he added, "we will have to continue our mission as planned".

A reduction in air quality, however, remained one of the biggest threats to the health of the boys and their coach according to the Governor.

Since then, rescuers have been examining ways to bring the boys out, including fitting them with full-face oxygen masks and accompanying them on a long, unsafe swim through the tunnels.

The urgency surrounding the rescue efforts has intensified ahead of weather forecasts predicting more rain over the weekend, which would further flood the cave.

The death of an experienced rescue diver in the cave system underlined the inherent risks in attempting to move the boys.

Officials are concerned about the oxygen levels in the cave where a Thai soccer team has been trapped for 13 days.

The firms have "advance ground penetrating radar" that is "pretty good at digging holes" or technology that could "create an air tunnel underwater" for the children to traverse, Musk said earlier.

Other members of the soccer community sent words of encouragement, including Liverpool's charismatic coach Jurgen Klopp, who said everyone is following the news and hoping they come out safely.

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