Divers are still about 3 km away from the spot where they hope to find 12 boys and their football coach who have been missing in a flooded cave in Thailand for eight days, Reuters reported on Sunday.
Teams from the United States, Australia, China and Japan have joined nearly 1,000 Thai rescuers at the mountainous location, according to AFP.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach have been missing since they went after football practice to explore the 10-km Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai province. Flood waters after heavy rain have blocked their way out. Rescuers hope they made their way to an elevated rock mound in an underground chamber beneath a mountain – a spot they have nicknamed “Pattaya Beach”. The boys reportedly knew the site well and had gone to explore it earlier too.
Divers of the Thai Navy Seals reached “chamber three” earlier this week but the rising flood water prevented them from moving further in. They again reached the chamber on Sunday, said the Seals commander Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew. Falling water levels helped them reach the point again, and there are plans to pump the water out, BBC reported.
“From chamber three to the intersection and then onto Pattaya Beach, this area is all flooded and dark,” Apakorn said. “It’s about 3 km from chamber 3 to Pattaya Beach.”
Rescue teams have been looking in the nearby jungles for alternative routes into the cave.
“They should be okay without food for eight days,” said Dr Somsak Akkasilp, the director-general of the Medical Services Department. But, he said the group’s survival depended on whether they found fresh drinking water – which, too, could pose the risk of infection.
“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,” Anmar Mirza, the United States National Cave Rescue Commission coordinator, told AFP.