Thai Diver Dies During Cave Rescue Operations

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In this Wednesday, July 4, 2018, file photo, rescue teams carry water pipes to the entrance of cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.

Given the risk of the oncoming rains that could undo the drainage efforts, Mr Narongsak said the conditions were now ripe for the boys to be evacuated.

The letters provoked a surge of emotion from families, who first endured nine long days before their children were found dishevelled and emaciated but alive on Monday - and now face an agonising wait for a unsafe evacuation.

"We have to make a clear decision on what we can do", he told the French news agency.

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 kilometers inside the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23.

"If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, Federation Internationale de Football Association would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow as our guests".

"And I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can".

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

Some of the children's parents have sent letters but the governor said he was was not sure if the trapped boys had read them.

The major 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.

Thai divers would lead the mission and United States divers would preposition oxygen tanks, the USA official said.

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"The environment inside the cave is challenging".

Thai SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew has said the tragedy won't stop the rescue mission.

A soccer team of 12 Thai schoolboys and their coach trapped in a flooded cave for the past fortnight established contact with their parents for the first time through heartfelt letters as rescuers strove on Saturday to find a way to save them. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam told reporters the most important task is to set up an oxygen line to reach the boys, the AP reports.

Four SEALs, including a medic, are looking after the team in the meantime.

The twelve boys and their coach got caught by flood waters while visiting the Tham Luang cave in the north of the country in late June, launching an global rescue effort. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

But it looks like authorities are more determined to attempt a rescue right now.

It's taken even experienced rescue divers up to five hours to safely navigate the unsafe cave channels to reach the team.

Ekkapol Chantawong was for nine days the only adult with the children - aged 11 to 16 - until they were discovered on a muddy ledge by rescue divers on Monday. Some officials said his collapse was due to his oxygen supply running out, but the cause of his collapse was not confirmed. The boys are weak but for the most part physically healthy.

In an update in the early hours of Saturday morning, rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said it was "not suitable" to make the boys dive to safety yet.

His death came during a rush to try and take advantage of lower flood waters, rather than waiting weeks or months to extract the trapped boys. The plan is to create enough headspace in the passageway to allow the boys to keep their heads above water rather than rely entirely on diving gear, the Associated Press reports.

Narongsak said they would have to drill through 600 meters (1,970 feet) of delicate limestone rock to reach the group and drilling angles were still being discussed.

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