Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Former Thai Navy Seal dies trying to rescue boys trapped in cave

Former Thai Navy Seal dies trying to rescue boys trapped in cave

The 25-year-old coach of a youth football team trapped for two weeks in a Thai cave has offered his "apologies to the parents" of the boys in a scrawled note released by the Thai Navy on Saturday.

"I talk to (the families) everyday and they would like us to bring their kids out but I said it has to be minimum risk".

But Mr Narongsak said a rescue was unlikely today - although a war room had been set up to monitor the situation.

Asked how the boys could make it out safely if an experienced diver could not, Apakorn said they would take more precautions with the children.

"Don't worry, we are all strong", one of the boys wrote.

Duangpetch "Dom" Promthep, 13: "I'm fine but it's a little bit cold, don't worry and don't forget my birthday".

The SEAL commander raised the possibility that the boys' location on a muddy patch above the water may not stay dry for long, as heavy monsoon rains could flood the cave again. Two divers from the United Kingdom were the first to make it, on Monday, to the area where the boys and their coach took shelter.

"Don't worry about me, I'm safe." a boy nicknamed Pong said. "Please tell Yod to take me out to a fried chicken shop", one boy said. "With love." The name reference could be of a waiting relative.

The boy's coach, who took the children into the caves after football practice, also shared a message from underground.

One boy, Mick, wrote: "Don't be anxious, I miss everyone. I love you all", 13-year-old Panumas "Mick" Saengdee wrote.

A team of Thai Navy SEALS, soldiers, police and volunteers have been working around the clock to try and drain the cave.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers finding them for nearly 10 days.

Asked at his news conference about bringing the boys out underwater, the governor replied, "Not today because they can not dive at this time".

"The kids are healthy, coherent, having fun, playing with each other - they have some minor cuts and minor injuries only", said Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn on Saturday.

Others have criticised him for agreeing to take the young boys into the cave during the monsoon season. But the weather conditions might not allow for that length of time, with heavy seasonal rains forecast to hit the region this weekend.

Cave rescue specialists have cautioned against the boys diving out, except as a last resort, because of the dangers posed by inexperienced people using diving gear. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

Authorities are also looking at alternative options like finding a shaft or drilling into the mountain to create the equivalent of a "back door" into the cave.

The sheer danger was made all the more apparent on Friday by the death of Saman Kunan, a former Thai Navy SEAL diver, who ran out of oxygen while returning from the chamber where the boys are trapped. Getting to safety requires a roughly five-hour dive through murky waters and suffocatingly narrow passageways - hard for even experienced divers - to a point closer to the mouth of the cave where the group could be brought out on stretchers.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has sent a team of engineers to Thailand to see if they can help in the rescue effort.

He said: "Boring Co has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes".

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