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Thailand Cave Search

| Friday, July 6, 2018, 12:15 p.m.
Flood water fills the entrance to a cave hindering the search efforts for 12 boys and their soccer coach who went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand, Friday, June 29, 2018.
Flood water fills the entrance to a cave hindering the search efforts for 12 boys and their soccer coach who went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand, Friday, June 29, 2018.
Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray for their rescue after going missing in a large cave, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday.
Relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach pray for their rescue after going missing in a large cave, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday.
Thai soldiers make their way up at the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach has been trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 4, 2018.
Thai soldiers make their way up at the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach has been trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 4, 2018.
Rescue personnel walk out of the entrance to a cave complex where it's believed that 12 soccer team members and their coach went missing, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Rescue personnel walk out of the entrance to a cave complex where it's believed that 12 soccer team members and their coach went missing, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Water is pumped from a flooded cave after a soccer team and their coach went missing a week ago believed to be in the cave, Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.  The effort to locate 12 boys and their soccer coach in the cave who have been missing for a week, picked up pace Saturday, as a break in the rain eased flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world joined the rescue mission.  (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Water is pumped from a flooded cave after a soccer team and their coach went missing a week ago believed to be in the cave, Saturday, June 30, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. The effort to locate 12 boys and their soccer coach in the cave who have been missing for a week, picked up pace Saturday, as a break in the rain eased flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world joined the rescue mission. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
International rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach trapped by flood waters Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing against time to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
International rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach trapped by flood waters Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing against time to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai soldiers hold an evacuation drill near the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand Saturday, June 30, 2018. Rescuers have been searching for 12 boys and their soccer coach missing for seven days in the flooded cave complex.
Thai soldiers hold an evacuation drill near the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand Saturday, June 30, 2018. Rescuers have been searching for 12 boys and their soccer coach missing for seven days in the flooded cave complex.
One of the relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach prays for their rescue after going missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the boys and coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
One of the relatives of 12 young soccer team members and their coach prays for their rescue after going missing in a large cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the boys and coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Friends sing a song outside of a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped inside, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. The Thai soccer teammates stranded more than a week in the partly flooded cave said they were healthy on a video released Wednesday, as heavy rains forecast for later this week could complicate plans to safely extract them. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Friends sing a song outside of a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped inside, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Wednesday, July 4, 2018. The Thai soccer teammates stranded more than a week in the partly flooded cave said they were healthy on a video released Wednesday, as heavy rains forecast for later this week could complicate plans to safely extract them. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Rescue personnel arrange large hoses and additional water pumps to continue a search operation for a young soccer team and their coach in a large flooded cave, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Rescue personnel arrange large hoses and additional water pumps to continue a search operation for a young soccer team and their coach in a large flooded cave, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.
Rescue teams gather in a deep cave where a group of boys went missing in Chang Rai, northern Thailand, Monday, June 25, 2018. Officials say multiple attempts to locate the 12 boys and their soccer coach missing in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for nearly two days have failed, but that they will keep trying.
Rescue teams gather in a deep cave where a group of boys went missing in Chang Rai, northern Thailand, Monday, June 25, 2018. Officials say multiple attempts to locate the 12 boys and their soccer coach missing in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for nearly two days have failed, but that they will keep trying.
Rescue personnel drag a water pump  up to the flooded cave that a soccer team and their coach are believed to be missing in, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. A U.S. military team and British cave experts have joined the rescue effort in northern Thailand for 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded for a fifth day inside a cave being flooded by near-constant rains.
Rescue personnel drag a water pump up to the flooded cave that a soccer team and their coach are believed to be missing in, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. A U.S. military team and British cave experts have joined the rescue effort in northern Thailand for 12 boys and their soccer coach stranded for a fifth day inside a cave being flooded by near-constant rains.
Soldiers carry a pump to help drain the rising flood water in a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand Friday, July 6, 2018. Thai authorities are racing to pump out water from the flooded cave before more rains are forecast to hit the northern region.
Soldiers carry a pump to help drain the rising flood water in a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand Friday, July 6, 2018. Thai authorities are racing to pump out water from the flooded cave before more rains are forecast to hit the northern region.
Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps to continue the search for 12 young soccer team members and their coach after going missing in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai soldiers bring hoses and additional water pumps to continue the search for 12 young soccer team members and their coach after going missing in Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for the 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Water is pumped from a flooded cave that a soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Water is pumped from a flooded cave that a soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand, frustrating the search for 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been missing since Saturday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
In this Sunday, July 1, 2018, file photo, rescuers make their way down at the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. The frantic effort to locate them in the cave for a week picked up pace as a break in the rain eased flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world joined the anxious rescue mission. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)
In this Sunday, July 1, 2018, file photo, rescuers make their way down at the entrance to a cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. The frantic effort to locate them in the cave for a week picked up pace as a break in the rain eased flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world joined the anxious rescue mission. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — Authorities overseeing the rescue operation for 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand said they have a “limited amount of time” to get them out, as they raced against worsening weather and lessening oxygen underground.

The massive operation inside and around Tham Luang Nang Non cave suffered its first death Friday when a former Thai navy SEAL passed out underwater and could not be revived.

“We can no longer wait for all conditions (to be ready) because circumstances are pressuring us,” Thai SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew told a news conference. “We originally thought the boys can stay safe inside the cave for quite some time, but circumstances have changed. We have limited amount of time.”

Oxygen levels are decreasing because of the amount of workers inside the cave and workers were trying to run an oxygen line into the chambers in addition to the oxygen canisters used by divers, Chiang Rai province Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said late Thursday.

A senior army commander, Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam, said the most pressing mission is the oxygen line. It is tied to a telephone line to provide a channel of communication for the kids, who are stuck deep in the complex but are being looked after by four SEALs, including a medic.

The boys, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in the cave after a soccer game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days as the only way to reach them was by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.

Authorities have been racing to pump out water from the cave before more storms in the coming days raise the water levels again. At this time though, diving is the only possible method of escape, even though cave rescue experts warn it is extremely dangerous even for those with experience.

Friday's death of the former SEAL underscores those risks. The diver was working in a volunteer capacity and died during an overnight mission in which he was placing oxygen canisters along the route divers use to get to the children, Arpakorn said.

The strategically placed canisters allow divers to stay underwater for longer during what is about a five-hour trip to reach the stranded team.

While underwater, the rescuer passed out and efforts to resuscitate him failed, Arpakorn said. Another navy official said he didn't believe the man's oxygen tank ran out.

“Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission,” Arpakorn said.

The governor has said the 13 may not be extracted at the same time, depending on their condition. They boys are weak but for the most part physically healthy. They've practiced wearing diving masks and breathing, in preparation for the diving possibility.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain is expected by Saturday.

They are hoping that an upgraded draining effort can lower the water in an area where it is still at or near the ceiling. The idea is to get some headroom so the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.

Cave rescue experts have said it could be safest to simply supply the boys where they are, and wait for the flooding to subside. That could take months, however, given that Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October. And without proper oxygen levels, staying put could also prove deadly.

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