BANGKOK: A dramatic underwater rescue mission to find a children’s football team who have been trapped in a flooded cave for two days was underway in northern Thailand, officials said Monday.
Divers have reached a large chamber of the vast cave inside which the 12 boys and their coach are believed to be stuck, said the deputy governor of Chiang Rai province.
“We think they are in this part of the cave, which continues for another three kilometres,” Pasakorn Boonyalug said.
“They haven’t eaten anything since Saturday, so we have brought them food and drink,” he added.
The children aged between 11 and 16 entered Tham Luang cave, in a national park near the Myanmar and Laos borders, with their coach on Saturday.
One of their mothers raised the alarm when her son did not return from football training that evening.
Heavy monsoon rains have hit the region in recent days, causing the cave to rapidly fill with water, and bicycles and shoes belonging to the boys were found soon afterward at the cave’s entrance.
The rescue operation started on Saturday night but was suspended overnight, during which time water levels inside the cave rose dramatically, requiring divers to pass through muddy and flooded sections of the cave.
Diving equipment has been prepared to facilitate the children’s evacuation, Pasakorn said.