Thais fight water and oxygen levels in cave as diver dies

Jul 06, 2018, 22:58
Thais fight water and oxygen levels in cave as diver dies

Despite the tragedy, officials believe they are getting close to rescuing the 13 people trapped in the cave. There has been no contact with the boys since they went missing nine days ago.

Deputy Army Commander Chalongchai Chaiyakham said: "The top priority today is to fill the air inside". He said the oxygen line was also tied to a telephone line that would provide a channel of communication for the team.

Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino extended the offer Thursday to the 12 boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach, who were found earlier this week deep within a complex cave system in Tham Luang.

That solution, however, now appears less likely, as authorities have expressed a greater need for urgency because of the coming rains and the dangerously low oxygen levels inside the cave.

Mr Doytibet Duchanee from the local Sangthum Rescue organisation told The Straits Times that even with experts' help, diving in such hard conditions would be a daunting task.

Morale is still high Friday despite the death of a former Thai navy SEAL officer who lost consciousness overnight while SCUBA diving on his way back from delivering air tanks to a site near the boys.

Fresh details of the operation underway at the Tham Luang Nang Non to free the team were emerging on Thursday, as rescuers pushed ahead with multiple plans to extricate the group trapped underground for nearly two weeks. Kunan's mission was to prolong the time divers could remain submerged by strategically placing oxygen tanks along the dark and narrow route.

Navigating through the cave system to where the football team is holed up takes experienced divers more than five hours in the flooded conditions.

He fell unconscious and efforts by his partner to resuscitate him were futile, the SEAL unit said.

"We can no longer wait for all conditions (to be ready) because the circumstance is pressuring us", Arpakorn said.

Meanwhile the Federation Internationale de Football Association president, Gianni Infantino, said the boys and their coach would be invited to attend the World Cup final in Russia should they be rescued in time and be healthy enough to travel.

Officials hope enough water can be drained out to allow the group to crawl out at least part of the way.

On Friday morning forecast downpours held off, giving a glimmer of respite to the rescue workers who are pumping out the water, whilst plotting the complicated extraction plan.

Rescuers are considering other options including keeping the 13 inside the cave until the flood waters recede at the end of the rainy season in about four months. The dramatic rescue efforts have garnered global attention, perhaps most notably at soccer's most widely watched event, the World Cup, being played in Russian Federation.

Even rescuers, all highly trained professionals, are taking six hours just to get to where the boys are located, said online reports.

"Nobody will teach anyone a full cave course, but trying to get them comfortable with masks, with the breathing, (is) completely different", he said.

He spent a few days gathering equipment and then set off to help with the rescue, by which time intrepid cave divers from around the world had arrived too, swelling the throng of soldiers, engineers, paramedics and other volunteers to up to 2,000, according to the local government.

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