Rescue Mission In Thailand Becomes Race Against Times With Monsoon Rains Predicted
An international rescue team is working around the clock to get the soccer team out.
Updated Thursday, 12.30pm: Thai rescue officials say a rescue operation on Thursday is unlikely, despite reports to the contrary.
Water levels had dropped 40cm since Wednesday, but are not yet at a point where it would be safe for the junior soccer team and their coach to leave their temporary sanctuary.
There is also a possibility that rescue teams may have to separate the boys.
The team is trapped in an airpocket in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave network in north Thailand, some 4km from the entrance to the cave.
They have been stuck there for more than ten days, as an international rescue team works around the clock to get them out.
Thai Navy divers have transported enough food and water to last the team two weeks, as the rescue effort reaches a "critical stage", said the Australian Federal Police on Thursday.
The AFP dive team has been on the ground in Thailand since June 30, assisting the international rescue operation.
They're helping to get air tanks and diving equipment in place in order to safely evacuate the group.
"The rescue effort has reached a critical stage, with important decisions to be taken on when and how to evacuate the group given the challenges of sustaining them in their current location and the dangers in evacuating them through high water levels," said the AFP.
The rescue effort to get 12 boys and their soccer coach out of a flooded cave in Thailand is now a race against time, with heavy rains forecast for the weekend.
Rescue efforts have been pumping water around the clock since June 24, removing water at about one centimeter an hour.
The Thai Navy SEALS have released images of the massive draining operation.
"Putting effort together in order to drain water out of the cave as fast as possible," said the Thai Navy Seal Facebook page.
"For the highest safety of the Wild Boar team on the day the leave the cave."
But thunderstorms are expected today and tomorrow, according to Weather.com, bringing a 40-60 percent chance of rain.
The next 24 hours will be crucial.
Rescue teams are teaching the boys to swim, as well as giving them diving masks and breathing apparatuses to practice with in case it comes to that.
But diving the long tunnels with near zero visibility is a risky operation for experienced divers, let alone emaciated boys who've never even swum before. Panic could be deadly.
The ideal situation is for water levels to drop allowing the boys and their coach to walk to safety, but if the monsoon rains come, there is a very real possibility that they will be trapped in the cave for months.
New footage of the boys emerged on Wednesday, wearing space blankets and even cracking a smile or two for the camera.
"What do the 13 of you want to say to your fans?" a doctor asks the boys. "Everybody in this world has been following your news."
They are being supplied with food, water and provisions, while rescuers are trying to install a fibre optic cable to allow those trapped to talk to their families, waiting outside the cave's entrance at a makeshift camp.