Rescuers fighting to save the soccer team trapped in a Thai cave network are about to face an even harder task, as monsoon season approaches the region in earnest with at least a week of daily rainstorms.
Samam Khunan, 38, fell unconscious after delivering oxygen to the stranded soccer team. "Our last trip together was to Malaysia".
"We are calculating how much time we have it if rains, how many hours and days", he said.
"Diving is always full of risks", Navy SEAL chief Rear Adm. Aphakorn Yookongkaew said.
One volunteer rescuer died in an effort to distribute oxygen tanks throughout the cave, when he himself ran out of oxygen and passed out underwater.
Thai military bring water pumps to the cave on Friday in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
"We are talking kilometers of transport under the water with zero visibility", said Claus Rasmusen, a certified cave diving instructor based in Thailand who has been helping Thai SEAL team with logistics.
"We have to try everything", a spokesman quoted by The Guardian said when asked about the rescue plan for the boys.
"Everybody is focusing on getting these boys out - keeping them alive or getting them out".
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Despite the death, divers will continue to provide the soccer players with oxygen and the plan is still for the boys to swim out of the cave with divers. "They will feel very guilty".
Around 1,000 people are involved in the complex rescue operation. They went missing after they set out to explore the cave on June 23.
The navy is teaching the boys the basics of diving, with a view to guiding them out through flood waters.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino wrote to the Thai soccer association (FAT) to invite the 12 boys and their coach to the World Cup final on July 15.
The death of an experienced diver in the cave system underlines the inherent risks in attempting to move the boys, who are physically weak after days without food. As the situation develops it is becoming clear that Thai authorities consider diving them out to be a very last resort - even with professional divers guiding them (who struggle themselves during this swim), ropes to grab onto, and other forms of help, it's still an incredibly unsafe journey that would likely claim the lives of many should they try to dive out. As of late Tuesday, about 120 million liters of water have been pumped out of the cave.
Thai officials had been suggesting in public statements that a quick underwater evacuation of the boys and their football coach was needed because of the possibility that access to the cave could soon close again due to seasonal monsoon rains expected this weekend.
It is a race against time to rescue those trapped as oxygen levels today were reported to be at critically low levels.
Officials initially thought they could keep the boys and their coach in the cave where they are trapped for up to four months, until waters dropped sufficiently for them to be able to walk out.
Maxtech Networks told The Times of Israel Thursday that its system is providing a voice, data and video link to the boys who have been stuck in the cave for almost two weeks, and were only located earlier this week.
Thai soldiers and police officers pay their respects as a plane carrying the body of former SEAL diver Saman Kunan takes off at Chiang Rai International Airport.
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