Conditions good for getting Thai boys out

Athit Perawongmetha  Reuters

The huge operation to rescue the group involves scores of Thai Navy SEALs, in addition to experts and volunteer divers from parts of Europe and Asia, as well as Australia and the US.

"On behalf of the worldwide football community, I would like to join you in expressing my deepest sympathies and support to the families of the players and coach, as well as my solidarity with the people of Thailand at this time of great concern".

The coach's role in the team's predicament has split Thai social media.

"I talk to them every day, if they'd like us to take the kids out, it has to be in the minimum risk", he said.

The boys, in their letters, said he was not to be blamed. It is still unclear how the boys will be rescued from the range of unsafe options on the table, as the country holds its breath hoping for good news.

Other touching notes signed by members of the "Wild Boar" team were directed to their families, many of whom have kept an anxious vigil outside the cave for a fortnight.

Boys trapped in a Thai cave wrote letters to their parents on Friday, telling them to "be strong" and not to worry. His family are shopkeepers. Grandpa, uncle, mom dad, and siblings I love you all. I am fine. Please take me to eat fried chicken after this.

"I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister". You don't need to be anxious about me. "Love you", a boy named Tun wrote. Don't worry about me. I'm waiting for you just outside. They've practiced wearing diving masks and breathing, in preparation for the diving possibility.

Peerapat "Night" Sompiangjai, 16: "I love Dad, Mum and brother". They became trapped in the cave, which is a local tourist spot where similar incidents have taken place in the past, when sudden rainfall flooded its entry on June 23. A video from the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page shows the group several kilometers inside the 10-kilometer (6-mile) cave network on a small wedge of dry ground. "I'm nearly crying", Night's mother Supaluk Sompiengjai told AFP.

The suggestion that the trapped team might have to wait months inside until a safe way out is available - as was the case in 2010 with Chilean miners trapped underground - has been met with little enthusiasm.

Anxious that heavy monsoon rain could soon make the job even more hard, Thai officials said earlier on Saturday they may need to quickly rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a partially flooded cave by helping them make risky dives to safety.

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The conditions made rescue operations hard , with some desperate citizens taking to Twitter to call for help. Another woman in the same district was found dead on the second floor of a home hit by a landslide.

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"We are still at war with water and time", Osottanakorn also said.

Mr Narongsak, a former provincial governor, told reportersconditions were now "perfect" and the next three to four days was "the best and most ideal time for the rescue operation". "We don't want to make a mistake".

The idea of an opening in the roof chamber is considered by many the "miracle solution", a way out that would immediately solve the issue of low oxygen levels and allow the boys to leave without having to navigate moving flood waters.

Friday's death of the former SEAL underscores those risks.

Authorities have been racing to pump out water from the cave before more storms in the coming days raise the water levels again.

The experts say the youngsters, who have been in the cave for two weeks, have not learned adequate diving skills in the short time since searchers reached the area where they are sheltering. A team of bird's nest collectors scour the mountainside for openings. But, he added, "we will have to continue our mission as planned".

Some areas in the cave complex are so narrow, the boys, who do not have diving experience, would have to swim through the muddy waters unaccompanied.

Crews on the mountain have drilled more than 100 holes - one of them 400 meters deep - but none has reached the cavern where the group is trapped.

The area surrounding a cave in northern Thailand where a dozen boys and their football coach have been trapped is being cleared in readiness for the rescue operation.

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

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