The Thailand cave rescue effort have been stepped up a gear as officials race to free a group of trapped boys aged 12-15 before conditions threaten to fill the cavern they are trapped in with rainwater.
Weather forecasts for Thailand’s Change Rai region predict that starting this weekend, a vicious downpour of monsoon rains are to take place, which could fill the tunnels of the cave complex.
Located in Change Rai, the snaking chamber complex promises that authorities will have difficulty bringing the school group out of the depts.
So far, efforts have focused on training the boys to use scuba equipment, before being guided out of the area by divers.
Will the trapped boys be rescued today?
Change Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn has confirmed the group of football players will not be released today.
In a statement to the press, the governor said that rescue attempts will not take place until there is ‘minimal risk’ to the operation.
So far, one diver has already lost his life in aiding the rescue of the group, passing after running out of oxygen.
Samarn Poonan, 38, a former member of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit, ran out of oxygen about 1.5m from the cave’s entrance.
His diving partner tried in vain to rescue him by administering first aid but could not save his life, according to the SEAL unit head.
Thailand cave rescue: The trapped boys are not to be rescued today
Samarn Poonan’s photo held up by an honour guard in memorial
What danger are the boys in?
Oxygen levels are a further cause for concern when rescuing the boys, as the confined area of the caves means little is being supplied.
Navy SEAL chief Rear Admiral Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew confirmed in a meeting with journalists today that oxygen levels have now dropped to 15 percent.
He warned that current levels add more urgency to getting the boys free, despite obvious risks in taking them out right now.
Thailand governor Narongsak Osottanakorn addresses the public
He said: ”We can no longer wait for all conditions to be ready because of the oppressive situation.
“We originally thought the young boys could stay safe inside the cave for quite a long time but circumstances have changed. We have limited amount of time.”
Thai volunteers are working around the clock to pump more oxygen into the chamber, but this may not be enough.
Initial beliefs that the boys could be kept alive and well within the caves with oxygen pumped to them have now given way to a sense of urgency.