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

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

The total journey from the cave's entrance to the trapped group now takes a total of 11 hours - six hours in and five hours back out. Pumping can reduce the water level by 1 to 2 centimeters per hour.

Rescuers could then enter the caves from above and help retrieve the group without going via flooded tunnels. It takes another five hours to return to the entrance.

Fast water currents inside the cave that made diving hard and raised speculation they could be trapped there for up to four months, has slowed significantly, The Australian reports. From that intersection, there is a narrow and completely submerged passage that requires rescue teams to dive to get through.

Despite spending nearly two weeks underground, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said Thursday the boys were in good spirits.

Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and unsafe waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained.

Thai authorities say the focus is now building up the boys' physical and mental strength after an ordeal that has left them emaciated.

Boys from an under-16 soccer team and their coach wait to be rescued after they were trapped inside a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 3, 2018, in this still image taken from a Thai Navy Seal handout video.

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.

The boys are being taught how to swim and dive so they can be escorted out by Navy divers if required, and authorities may also be considering drilling down into the cave.

But a Thai official said Tuesday that an underwater exit plan may be the only option if heavy rains forecast in the coming days worsen flooding in the mountain cave.

The doctor and nurse, part of a team of seven with the boys, are also reportedly assessing which of the group may be strong enough to attempt to escape the cave by swimming out while wearing dive masks. They tried doing the same on Tuesday, however, the equipment was damaged by water. On Thursday, CNN saw an old-style military phone and loops of cable being carried into the cave by engineers.

Thai authorities have emphasized that they will not endanger the boys' lives during the extraction and will only do it when it is "100 percent safe".

"We are drawing our jungle trekking resources together". We have to see they are ready.

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The teams searching for another route through a natural chimney were dispatched following reports that the boys had told divers they heard dogs barking, a rooster crowing and children playing, possibly indicating a shaft leading up to the surface.

Khaosod English, a Bangkok-based news organization, reported that officials are calling for donations of small diving masks that would fit the boys, as regular diving equipment could be too risky.

It is the second video to delight a Thai nation that has held its breath for a successful outcome to a complex rescue kilometres inside one of the country's longest caves.

"It's awful news and the world of football hopes that someone can find a way to take these kids out of there", he said.

"We have the luxury of time", Courtley said, noting that the group is now in a "stable and non-life threatening" situation in the cave.

Rescue coordinators are warily eying the skies for further downpours, which could imperil the rescue mission. "And now we are working against water", Osottanakorn said.

"What we worry most is the weather", the Chiang Rai provincial governor told reporters Thursday.

The other immediate issue is the risk of water continuing to rise.

He said he didn't want to give an estimate on when they could be brought out and be reunited with their families.

An worldwide team of rescuers, including six Specialist Response Group members of the Australian Federal Police, are helping in the rescue operation.

Officials say most, if not all, the boys don't know how to swim.

The Australians on the ground "remain closely engaged in efforts to support and sustain the group, as well as in planning".

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