Thailand Cave Rescue: A Tragic Loss And The Arrival Of Rain
"His job was to deliver oxygen."
In the fight to save Thailand’s lost boys, and their coach, it was a cruel one-two punch.
First, the death of a former Thai navy seal, who had returned to his old team to help with the rescue.
Then, the rain.
Two significant bursts of showers, which will now trickle down and raise the water levels inside the flooded underground chambers which have blocked the soccer team’s exit.
The diver, 38 year old Saman Gunan, had already taken all the risks his country had asked of him.
He’d retired from the navy seals, and focused on his passion for fitness and bike riding, but had returned to his team to help bring the young boys home to their families.
The former Navy SEAL diver died in the cave due to a lack of oxygen.
"His job was to deliver oxygen," Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Boonaluck told reporters on Friday.
"He did not have enough on his way back."
“It’s the saddest thing that can happen," said experienced diver Rafael Aroush, who has volunteered to help Thai authorities.
“It’s just telling us how dangerous and how complicated the rescue mission is," he said.
The local Deputy Governor has vowed Gunan’s death will not be in vain, and that the mission will proceed.
Ten Eyewitness News asked Thai Seal Team Commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew whether the Diver’s death meant it would be too dangerous to bring children through the same route.
“Yes yes”, he said. “But we try everything, for the best way to help them."
Another officer then explained the rescue crews would use a different diving method and take greater precautions with the children.
Time is not on their side.
As well as the race against the rain, oxygen levels in the cave have begun the drop, in part because there are so many people inside it.
An effort is now underway to feed a compressed air pipeline from the cave entrance to the small dry chamber where the boys are located.
But -- much like the efforts to install power, phones lines and fibre optic cable -- it is not a simple exercise.