Thai rescuers racing to get boys out of cave before more flooding

Richard Stanton left and John Volanthen arrive in Mae Sai Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand. —AP

The SEALs have also started to pump oxygen into the chamber.

Thai authorities have been working to with Navy SEALs to run a fiber optic internet line into the flooded Tham Luang cave where 12 young soccer players and their coach are trapped.

Adding more to worry is the weather forecast which suggests rain in the upcoming days which might lead to the flood waters rising to a risky level.

Water is being pumped out from the deluged cave round-the-clock, reducing the flooding by one centimetre an hour.

Rescuers have been reluctant to be drawn on when the evacuation might be attempted from the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai. It takes another five hours to return.

As the entire nation is glued to the media coverage of the rescue mission, Thai authorities insist they will not compromise on the safety of the trapped group.

"I have no doubt that if the government of the country puts in everything and makes all possible efforts, this rescue will be successful", he said.

"This morning, I have asked for 13 sets of (diving) equipment to be prepared and checked the equipment lists and placed them inside (the cave) in case we have to bring them out in this condition with less than 100% readiness", Narongsak said.

Rescue teams initially didn't plan to rush the boys and their coach out, but heavy rains forecasted for later this week are threatening to push forward those plans.

"There's a British dry cave geologist that told us 'listen, you have to go there, drop down, otherwise you won't find it, go left".

The teammates and their coach were seen in latest video sitting with Thai navy SEALs in the dark cave, their skinny faces illuminated by a flashlight.

In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Thai Navy Seal, Thai boys are with Navy SEALs inside the cave, Mae Sai, northern Thailand.

Kobchai Boonarana, deputy director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation department, said it was up to the rescue team in the cave to decide if and when the boys would be strong enough to tackle the journey out. On Thursday, CNN saw an old-style military phone and loops of cable being carried into the cave by engineers.

Thai authorities have also suggested removing the team in stages, depending on the boys' conditions.

"We are drawing our jungle trekking resources together". The current flooding situation means the boys would have to dive, which rescue experts have said could be extremely unsafe.

Thailand's Underwater Demolition Assault Unit, the agency in charge of extraction, is evaluating the risk of taking the group out, and though the boys have been practicing wearing diving masks and breathing, it doesn't appear they have yet practiced diving, Osatanakorn said.

Rescue workers prepare small diving masks to deliver inside the cave. "Because that would mean there is livestock nearby or at least a forest which would make an alternative entrance possible".

About 30 teams of rescuers were combing the ground surface above the cave.

Rescuers found them on Monday after a nine-day search.

He warns, however, that the rescue attempt is far from over.

This is the safest and most straightforward option, but could take a long time - possibly months. "And now we are working against water", Osottanakorn said.

"We are draining out as much as our capacity allows. But water continues to flow in, no matter how many holes have been blocked, water still continues to pour in". Our guys were hampered with several days of heavy rainfall, not being able to progress deeper into the cave.

The navy has released videos of the boys, showing them smiling and interacting with the personnel sent into the cave to bring supplies, treat their injuries and keep them company.

"How many are you?"

Despite efforts to teach the group to dive, authorities believe this would be unsafe.

"Navy SEAL will come tomorrow, with food and doctors and everything", the rescuer said.

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