CHIANG RAI – As the search for the 12 young football players and their coach trapped in Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai enters the second week today, a SEAL unit of the Royal Thai Navy has reached a spot inside the cave closer to where they are believed to be taking refuge.
A report on the Thai Navy SEAL webpage said the unit arrived late this morning at an area known as the 3rd chamber, which is about 2.5 kilometres from the so-called Pattaya Beach where the 13 people are being stranded. It’s the second time that a rescue team is back on the spot.
Earlier on June 25, the first SEAL team arrived at the 3rd chamber where footprints of the footballers were found.
But at the time, the chamber was five metres under water. It is believed that the 13 had moved deeper inside the cave. On that day, the team suspended their search because of high level of water in the chamber.
But today the water level in the chamber has receded, enabling the rescue team to plan to continue their probe.
Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn expressed satisfaction with this morning’s exercise to evacuate survivors from Tham Luang cave but admitted there were some hitches that need to be addressed.
Thai rescue teams searching for 12 boys trapped in a waterlogged cave practised evacuation and medical procedures on Saturday, as the desperate search went into seventh day.
There has been no contact with the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach since they went into the cave last weekend and were hemmed in by heavy rains that blocked the entrance.
Those downpours have continued all week, hampering the enormous rescue efforts to find the youngsters and their 25-year-old coach.
Medical teams staged drills on Saturday to prepare for their possible rescue as worries loomed over how the boys might be pulled out of the Tham Luang cave if and when they are found.
Ambulances and helicopters were on standby for the drills Saturday morning at the bustling rescue site in northern Chiang Rai province.
Teams of foreign experts, including more than 30 US military personnel, have descended on the remote mountainous site near the Laos and Myanmar border to join some 1,000 Thai rescuers.
Australians, Chinese and Japanese experts also joined efforts.
Stone-faced relatives kept vigil under a makeshift tent where monks are leading prayers.
His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch led a mass prayer on Friday which was broadcast live, which was attended by government figures headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who yesterday morning travelled to the northern province to give moral support to the families of the missing and rescuers.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of students and teachers at schools nationwide conducted prayers and meditations to send blessings to the local football team nicknamed “The Wild Boars”.
By Geoff Thomas
Additional Sources: Thai PBS, Bangkok Post, The Nation