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Thai cave rescue site cleared to 'help victims'
08 July 2018, 07:10 | Erica Roy
UPDATE: Thai schoolboys not ready for underwater escape
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with the 25-year-old after soccer practice on June 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park nearby the border with Myanmar.
Rescuers found them 10 days later and are now working to find a way to get them out.
The only way to reach them was by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.
In this July 3, 2018 image, trapped Thai boys are with Navy SEALs inside a cave in northern Thailand.
Getting out via the same route looks like the only feasible option, but a high-risk one, Thai officials say. Water levels in the cave have been reducing for days because of a huge operation to pump water out of the caverns. A moment of panic in a narrow, flooded passage could spell disaster.
Officials say they have a window of up to four days before rains will make the rescue more hard. The monsoon rains are expected to begin in the region within a day.
"[It's] looking like there will be very heavy rain by about midday local time and then continuing for most of the afternoon and potentially into tomorrow", ABC correspondent Anne Barker told ABC News.
"It's so sad to see where they are and we hope they get out safe and sound".
An underwater effort to try to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded for two weeks in the flooded Tham Luang Cave will not be mounted in the immediate future, the commander of the operation said on Saturday.
The boys see their situation in less grandiose terms, according to their notes home, which were made public Saturday.
Another, identified as Tun, writes: "Mom and dad, please don't worry, I am fine".
"Don't worry. I really miss everyone".
One boy, called Nick, wrote: "Mum, Dad, Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings".
The risky journey killed a trained Navy SEAL on Friday, who passed out underwater while delivery oxygen tanks inside the cave. Love you Mum." Panumas "Mick" Saengdee, 13, wrote: "Don't worry.
The sixth letter from the boys stuck in a cave in Thailand included messages from Peerapat "Night" Sompiangjai, 16; Nattawut "Tle" Takamsai, 14; and Prajak "Note" Sutham, 14.
One player writes: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold but don't worry". Don't forget my birthday party. Teachers please don't give them too much homework.
The officials involved in the rescue mission have been able to drain water out of a section of cave even though some parts of the cave are heavily flooded and would require diving.
Authorities have been racing to pump out water from the cave before more storms in the coming days raise the water levels again.
A letter written by the SEALs team caring for the 12 young footballers and coach inside the cave.
"We are here for you, and we just want you know that you have to take care of yourself", Note's parents replied. "Thank you for all the moral support and I apologize to the parents", said the handwritten note delivered to the outside world by divers.
Teams of Thai and worldwide divers have since supplied them with food, oxygen and medical attention, but there are mounting concerns about the oxygen level in the chamber, which officials said had fallen to 15%.
Friday's death of the former SEAL underscores those risks.
Three workers were injured in a fall at the site on Saturday. "To leave them there would nearly certainly result in them drowning", said one British mining engineer and experienced cave diver, who did not wish to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject.
Noting that a means to free the boys has not been decided, Mr Narongsak said that the water levels from the cave entrance to chamber three - where the rescue base is - is now low enough for personnel to walk through.
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