Thai and British divers are preparing an emergency rescue plan to guide 12 boys and their football coach out of a waterlogged cave they have been trapped in for two weeks, media report.
The governor of the Chiang Rai province, who heads the rescue operation said this was a last resort option, however, it is unlikely to be conducted on Saturday, ABC news service reported.
“Not today because they cannot dive at this time,” Narongsak Osotthanakorn said, adding the boys were still practicing using diving equipment.
The boys aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach from the “Wild Boar” football team entered the cave network in northern Thailand when it was still dry but rain soon flooded the tunnel, stranding them in a chamber miles inside the system.
Accroding to AFP, more than 100 chimneys are being drilled into the mountain in a bid to reach children trapped in a massive cave complex below.
“Some (of the chimneys) are as deep as 400 metres… but they still cannot find their location yet,” Narongsak Osottanakorn was quoted as saying by AFP, adding that the rescue mission lacked the technology “to pinpoint where they are staying”. “We estimate that (they) are 600 metres down, but we don’t know the (exact) target,” he stressed.
However, Osottanakorn has stressed that the rescuers had managed to establish a line to pump in fresh air and had also withdrawn non-essential workers from chamber, where the rescue base located, AFP reported.
Underlining the perils they face, an experienced Thai Navy SEAL diver died late on Thursday after running out of oxygen and losing consciousness on his way back from a mission to deliver oxygen canisters.
Authorities initially suggested waiting until the end of the rainy season in fall but rescuers now warn of a dwindling lack of oxygen and upcoming monsoonal rains flooding the cave. The third option being explored now is drilling a shaft through the mountain where the cave is located.