Divers with extra supplies advance in flooded cave passageway

02 July, 2018, 14:25 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • FacebookThe missing Thai soccer team and their coach are seen in this undated Facebook post in which the coach urged players

Police and military personnal from Australia were deployed to the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai on Saturday to help locate the boys and their coach who went into the cave last Saturday.

Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew, commander of the Thai Navy Seals, said his divers had reached "chamber three" in the cave complex.

As the search entered its eighth day, rescuers still had no idea of the whereabouts of the missing group - a dozen boys aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach.

The upbeat attitude comes after a week of heavy rains pounded the area near the Myanmar and Laos borders, making it hard to reach deeper into Tham Luang.

Many global teams are searching for a football team trapped for more than a week in a cave.

Technicians lift water pumps to the drilling site near Tham Luang cave, at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai province on July 1, 2018 as the rescue operation continues for a missing children's football team and their coach.

"We are fighting against time and water to save the 13 lives", Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said.

Divers reached the same spot earlier in the week but were forced back by rushing floodwaters.

Council vice chairman Bill Whitehouse said: "They are trying their best in very hard situations".

He said water levels in the cave had decreased and that nearly 60 foreign and Thai divers were involved in the rescue effort.

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Nearly 14,000 rai of farmland around Tham Luang has been flooded as rescuers continue pumping out water to help divers reach the 13 footballers stranded in the cave.

They likely have access to fresh water inside the cave and officials believe they brought snacks into the cave and possibly headlamps too.

Teams of foreign experts, including more than 30 United States military personnel, have descended on the remote mountainous site to join some 1,000 Thai rescuers.

Teams have been combing the mountainside looking for fissure that might lead to such shafts.

Australian, Chinese and Japanese experts also joined efforts.

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.

The race to save the boys has dominated news bulletins, gripping the nation, and relatives of the missing children have kept up a long vigil at the mouth of the cave.

Divers from the Thai navy's elite SEAL unit were groping their way through the murky waters filling passages of the 10 km underground maze of the Tham Luang cave.

Officials said the boys know the site well and have visited it many times, so they may have been able to find shelter.

Rescuers found footprints and handprints in a chamber near that spot earlier in the week, further in from where they found the kids' football boots, backpacks and bicycles.

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