CHIANG RAI, THAILAND - JULY 7: Thai rescue personnel carry oxygen cylinders back to their base camp at the entrance to the cave where members of a youth soccer team is currently trapped on July 7, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The 12 boys and their soccer coach have been found alive in the cave where they've been missing for over a week after monsoon rains blocked the main entrance in northern Thailand. Videos released by the Thai Navy SEAL shows the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach are in good health in Tham Luang Nang Non cave and the challenge now will be to extract the party safely. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
Thai rescue personnel carry oxygen cylinders back to their base camp at the entrance to the cave where members of a youth soccer team is currently trapped. Lauren DeCicca / Getty Images 

Ray of light for Thai boys in cave as rescuers say conditions 'perfect' for evacuation



Conditions are "perfect" to evacuate a young football team from a flooded Thai cave in the coming days, the rescue mission chief said on Saturday, although a brief downpour late in the evening underscored the huge threat posed by further monsoon rains.

The plight of 12 Thai boys and their coach from the "Wild Boar" football team has transfixed Thailand since they became trapped in a cramped chamber several kilometres inside the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23.

Rescuers have conceded that evacuating the boys is a race against time with monsoon rains expected to undo days of round-the-clock drainage of the deluged cave.

____________

Read more: The mission to save the boys begins - live updates

____________

More than 100 exploratory holes have been bored -- some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep -- into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into a dangerous dive through submerged tunnels.

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are perfect (for evacuation) in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health," Narongsak Osottanakorn the chief of the rescue operation told reporters.

"We have to make a clear decision on what we can do."

Later on Saturday evening torrential rain pounded the area for around half an hour, highlighting the urgency of the rescue. It was not immediately clear what effect, if any, the storm would have on the operation.

Rescuers have fed a kilometres-long air pipe into the cave to restore oxygen levels in the chamber where the team are sheltering, accompanied by medics and expert divers.

"When we're in a confined space if the oxygen drops to 12 percent the human body starts to slow down and people can fall unconscious," Mr Narongsak said.

"There's also carbon dioxide. If the oxygen levels are down and the carbon dioxide levels are up, then you can get too much carbon dioxide in your blood."

Sustained heavy rains could make the water rise to the shelf where the children are sitting, reducing the area to "less than 10 square meters," he added, citing estimates from cave divers and experts.

In the early hours of Saturday morning he said the boys were not yet ready to dive-out of the cave, a complex and dangerous task through twisting and jagged submerged passageways.

But his comments 12 hours later suggest the thinking has changed, with water levels inside the cave currently managed to their lowest point by constant drainage.

Earlier on Saturday Thai Navy SEALS published touching notes scrawled by the trapped footballers to their families, who are waiting for them agonisingly close-by outside the cave entrance.

The children urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they are safely evacuated.

In one Pheerapat, nicknamed "Night", whose 16th birthday the group were celebrating in the cave when they became stuck on June 23, said:

"I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister. You don't need to be worried about me."

_________

Read more:

‘Mission Impossible’: What lies ahead for boys found alive in Thai cave

Thai cave rescue: Diving expert explains the challenges ahead

Thai cave rescuers in a 'race against water'

_________

Meanwhile the 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong, the only adult to accompany the boys into the cave, sent his "apologies" to their parents.

"To all the parents, all the kids are still fine. I promise to take the very best care of the kids," he said in a note given to divers on Friday.

"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologise to the parents."

The boys are being trained in the basics of diving in case the floodwaters force authorities into a sudden evacuation.

The risks were underlined by the death on Friday of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver, who ran out of oxygen while returning from the chamber where the boys are trapped.

Saman Kunan had been trying to establish the air line when he passed out and perished.

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work," Navy Seal commander Apakorn Yookongkaew said, adding that rescuers have "a limited time" to extract the boys.

Mr Ekkapol's message is the first from the coach, whose role in the team's predicament has split Thai social media.

Many have lauded him after reports he gave his share of food to the kids before they were located and helped them get through nine days in the darkness.

Others have criticised him for agreeing to take the young boys into the cave during the monsoon season.

The group became trapped deep inside the cave after flood waters gushed in.

UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

The lowdown

Rating: 4/5


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos