US, UK divers join search for kids′ football team trapped in Thai cave | News | DW | 28.06.2018
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US, UK divers join search for kids' football team trapped in Thai cave

UK cave-diving experts and a US military team have joined Thai navy rescuers in the search for a kids' football team trapped in caves in Thailand. The group went missing five days ago.

Rescuers outside the Tham Luang caves

Rescuers outside the Tham Luang caves

US military personnel and British divers on Thursday joined rescue efforts at the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand searching for a children's football team missing for five days now.

"Essentially what they're looking at is assessing with the Thai authorities the potential courses of action and complementing the efforts underway," US embassy spokeswoman Jillian Bonnardeaux said.

Thai Major General Bancha Duriyapat, who is coordinating the rescue, said the Thai navy, UK cave-diving experts and a US military team were inside the cave and rescuers were continuing to work.

He said about 1,000 Thai divers, police, soldiers, border guards and officials had been mobilized for the rescue.

Rising waters inside the cave due to ongoing heavy rain have impeded efforts to find the group, with some of the rescue divers being forced to turn back as water flooded a second chamber, officials said.

High-pressure water pumps have been brought in from Bangkok, but water levels continued to rise, reportedly at a rate of about 15 centimeters (6 inches) per hour.

Duriyapat said on Thursday morning that authorities had switched off power and water pumps to avoid electrical hazards. He added that the plan was to drill a hole into the cave on Friday to open up potential access to the caves. Drones have already been used to locate an appropriate site for the hole, he added.

Some 13 members of an under-16 soccer team are trapped the northern province of Chiang Rai

Some 13 members of an under-16 soccer team are trapped the northern province of Chiang Rai

'You can't see anything'

"The water is like cafe latte, you can't see anything, and there's a very strong flow which doesn't make it easy," rescue helper Ben Reymenants, owner of Blue Label Diving in Thailand, told the French news agency AFP from Chiang Rai.

The missing group includes 12 boys aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old football coach. Authorities found a motorbike and bicycles belonging to the boys in front of the entrance of the cave on Tuesday, while footprints, handprints and shoes and bags have been found inside the cave complex.

The Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex is a popular tourist site, but often floods during the June-October rainy season. Tourists have been trapped in the cave and rescued in the past.

jbh/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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