Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Thai divers make little progress in murky cave search

FacebookThe missing Thai soccer team and their coach are seen in this undated Facebook post in which the coach urged players FacebookThe missing Thai soccer team and their coach are seen in this undated Facebook post in which the coach urged players"to keep practicing
Pablo Mccormick | 02 July, 2018, 14:29

Thai rescue personnel arrive at the Tham Luang cave to conduct operations to find the missing members of the children's football team in a cave chamber along with their coach at the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai on 25 June 2018.

Thai navy SEALs said in a Facebook post early Monday that divers since Sunday night had reached a bend where the half-mile-long passage splits in two directions.

Last Saturday, the missing football team visited the cave after a training session.

But Navy SEAL divers reached a T-junction in the depths of the cave just two or three kilometres (one to two miles) from where the boys are believed to be, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said.

Soldiers and rescue workers work in Tham Luang cave complex, as an ongoing search for members of an under-16 soccer team and their coach continues, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 1, 2018.

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Rescue teams attempted to reach deeper into the chambers of Tham Luang cave in the hope of locating the children, aged 11 to 16, and the coach more than a week after they ventured in and were blocked by heavy rains.

The group likely has access to fresh water, either dripping in through rocks or rushing in through the entrance, but experts warned that runoff water from nearby farms could carry risky chemicals or bacteria.

"They should be okay without food for eight days", he said. An worldwide team with experts from China, Australia, the United States and Britain have joined in the search.

Anmar Mirza, coordinator of the US National Cave Rescue Commission, said: "If they drink the water in the caves and it makes them sick it could hasten the problem that they are in, but if they don't drink it then they are also in trouble".

Continued rain and subsequent flooding in the cave has hampered rescue efforts, as diving was suspended for most of the week to drain floodwater out so divers can have enough oxygen inside the cave.

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The terrain is tough going - mountainous and heavily forested, slowing down teams looking for other possible points of entry, according to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

Rescuers have advanced 600 metres from the base towards the Pattaya site, while heavy drilling at separate chimneys outside the cave has started in an attempt to establish communication with the boys.

Australian police and military have joined other global teams in the rescue mission.

The labyrinth is popular with tourists and for the first kilometer (0.6 miles) or so inside the cavernous entrance, limestone rock formations hug high ceilings, creating an nearly amphitheater-like atmosphere.

Relatives kept a vigil, with prayers led by a Buddhist monk, near the mouth of the cave.

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Rescuers found their bicycles, football boots and backpacks near the cave's entrance, and discovered handprints and footprints further in.

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