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Heavy Rains Continue to Hamper Rescue Operations for the 13 Missing Footballers in Tham Luang Cave

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CHIANG RAI – Heavy rains have continued to hamper rescue operations for the 12 footballers and there coach trapped in Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai.  As the desperate search for the missing boys entered its fifth night, officials said they were still sure they would find them.

The monks led chants alongside frantic relatives who cling to hope the boys would be found soon.

Maj Gen Bancha Suriyapan, commander of the 37th Army Circle, said soldiers combing the hillside above the cave in search of other passages into the cave, however so far there search has turned up nothing.

Rescue teams have been working around the clock to drain the cave but more rainwater keeps coming.

Officials shipped in several high-pressure water pumps overnight to help drain the waterlogged chambers of the cave near the Laos and Myanmar borders, which is several kilometres long.

More equipment has been rushed to the scene, including a mobile generator to provide lighting inside the cave, giant water pumps, a mobile kitchen and a backhoe.

It had been a losing battle as rain kept falling for most of the day, but by evening one of the largest pumps was set up and operating.

Soldiers carried large hoses into the cave as efforts continued to pump out the flood water

 

Thailand’s SEAL unit said on its Facebook page that water levels rose 15 centimeters (six inches) overnight and that a third chamber of the complex cave network — believed to be several kilometers long — was flooded.

Three British cave-divers who have previously explored the site arrived in Thailand Wednesday to join about 1,000 soldiers, navy SEAL divers, police and park rangers at Tham Luang cave.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Supreme Commander Thanchaiyan Srisuwan said on Wednesday the United States Pacific Command  was sending a team of navy divers and disaster experts to help with the search. They are en route from Hawaii.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said on Wednesday that rescue teams continued the search despite rising floodwater inside the cave. Divers had re-entered the cave to continue their search, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said resources from all agencies were being used in the search for the 13 missing people. He hoped that there would be good news soon and urged people not to be discouraged.

 

Photos on the Facebook page of the missing coach Ekkapol Janthawong showed him with young footballers inside the cave in 2016 with the caption “special training before match”.