Thai schoolboys not ready for underwater escape

Former Thai Navy Seal dies trying to rescue boys trapped in cave

Thai authorities have asked media to leave the area around the entrance of the cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped for two weeks, fueling speculation that a rescue mission could be imminent.

"Don't worry dad and mum", said a note from one of the boys who gave his nickname as "Bew".

It would be "no problem" they assured us, their friends were more than capable, and besides they have the best divers in the world helping them.

The massive operation inside and around Tham Luang Nang Non cave suffered its first death Friday when a former Thai navy SEAL passed out underwater and could not be revived.

He said on Saturday that the ideal time to make a rescue attempt had not yet arrived as the 12 boys, aged 11 to 15, and their 25-year-old coach trapped in the cave needed more time to prepare, and to learn how to dive.

Anxious that heavy monsoon rain could soon make the job even more hard, Thai officials said earlier on Saturday they may need to quickly rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a partially flooded cave by helping them make risky dives to safety.

The boys' parents responded to Akkapol, writing: "Dear Coach, Ake, We, as your soccer team member's parents believe in you and your spirit that you've been taking a good care of our kids".

"The kids are healthy, coherent, having fun, playing with each other - they have some minor cuts and minor injuries only", Narongsak Osatanakorn, the Thai official in charge of the rescue operation, told reporters Saturday.

"The plan that I've held on to from the beginning is that we have to bring the kids out, and the determining factor of this plan is to have as little water as possible", he said. "If I can get out, Mum and Dad please bring me mookatha [Thai barbecue] to eat".

"It doesn't matter how long I wait as long as he is safe".

Hundreds of rescuers, mostly Thai Navy SEALs, are working to provide those trapped in the cave with all necessary supplies while pumping water out of the complex.

Thailand has entered the monsoon season and heavy rains have been forecast in the north over the weekend. "To leave them there would nearly certainly result in them drowning", said one British mining engineer and experienced cave diver, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he said in a note given to divers on Friday.

He said he wanted to reduce risks but added that falling oxygen levels inside the cave were another "really big concern".

"We are still at war with water and time", Osottanakorn also said.

Earlier in the week, efforts to lower the water levels had generated an air of optimism.

After several days of searching, rescuers found all 13 people alive but face a challenge to extract them from the situation .

Warild suggested a compromise that would buy the rescuers some time: find a safe halfway point where the boys and rescue divers could take shelter if the cave refloods.

Thousands of volunteers, members of the Thai military, and worldwide rescue experts are participating in the search effort.

The rescue mission has faced a flawless storm of obstacles since it began, including monsoonal rains, a lack of oxygen in the cave and the fact that numerous boys trapped inside don't know how to swim let alone dive.

The strategically placed air canisters allow divers to stay underwater for longer during what is about a five-hour trip to reach the stranded team.

The entrepreneur behind the Tesla automobile and the SpaceX rocket company also owns Boring Co., which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar.

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