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‘Limited time’ for daring rescue mission to free Thailand’s trapped boys

09 July, 2018, 07:47 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Rescue personnel arrive as rescue operations continue for 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province

Ekkapol Chantawong, the boys' 25-year-old football coach, apologised to the parents in his own letter.

"We would like to take the minimum risk possible", he said. "Thank you for your kind support and I would like to say I'm really sorry to you all", he wrote.

The 12 Thai boys trapped in a cave are not yet ready to make the complex dive out, the commander of the rescue mission said early Saturday, although forecast heavy rains could speed up their extraction attempt.

A handwritten message written by a diver during the rescue misssion reads, "The children said don't worry about them".

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

Both boys, who go by their nicknames, had planned to go on the June 23 hike into Tham Luang Nang Non, Thailand's longest cave, which ended with 12 of their Wild Boars teammates and coach getting trapped inside by floodwaters.

"Night loves Dad and Mom and brother, don't worry about me. With love." The name reference could be of a waiting relative.

"Once his mission was over he dove back, but in the middle of their return his buddy found Samarn unconsious in the water and tried to pump his heart, but he could not save his life", the SEAL unit said in a statement.

Nick: Mum, Dad, Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings.

A team of Thai Navy SEALS, soldiers, police and volunteers have been working around the clock to try and drain the cave.

A daunting task now awaits both the boys - aged between 11 to 16 - and their rescuers. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days as the only way to reach them was by navigating a series of dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.

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"Some (of the chimneys) are as deep as 400 metres. but they still can not find their location yet", Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding the mission lacked the technology "to pinpoint where they are staying".

He said the boys were still healthy and have practiced wearing diving masks and breathing in preparation for the diving possibility.

Around 1,000 people are involved in the complex rescue operation.

They have to work their way through a narrow passage that is flooded in sometimes deep, dark and low visibility areas.

Authorities continue to pursue a third option, which is finding a shaft or drilling into the mountain to find a sort of back-door entrance.

The death of the Thai diver, Saman Gunan, on Friday underscored the risks of making the underwater journey.

The Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page shared the note on Saturday.

Samarn Poonan, 38, a former member of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit, died on Thursday night as he worked underwater in the cave complex, laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route, the SEAL commander said.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has sent a team of engineers to Thailand to see if they can help in the rescue effort. In a string of tweets, Musk said his tunneling firm, Boring Co., and others will look for new ways to reach the underground chamber in the country's north.

The effort has also brought global assistance including Australian and U.S. forces and British cave-divers who first found the boys on Monday.

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