Thai boys write 'don't worry' to parents as rescue operations continue

Thai boys write 'don't worry' to parents as rescue operations continue

Many parents made it clear they are not angry at their sons for going into the cave.

For the first time since they were found, the boys communicated by letter with their relatives - many camped outside the cave's entrance.

Those tanks are needed because oxygen levels are dropping, down to an alarming 15 percent.

Rescuers have conceded that evacuating the boys is a race against time with monsoon rains expected to undo days of round-the-clock drainage of the deluged cave.

Meanwhile, the 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong, the only adult to accompany the boys into the cave, sent his "apologies" to their parents. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he said.

"On behalf of the global 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 warning came a day after a Thai diver died during part of the rescue operation, marking a deadly turn in what started out as a celebration of one of the boys' birthdays at the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Chiang Rai province.

"The environment inside the cave is challenging".

"We can no longer wait for all conditions (to be ready) because circumstances are pressuring us", Thai SEAL commander Rear Adm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew told a news conference.

In the meantime, oxygen levels have fallen inside the cave complex.

Flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

As the monsoon rains begin, water is being pumped out of the caves and a plan is being developed to bring them to safety. At this time though, diving is the only possible method of escape, even though cave rescue experts warn it is extremely unsafe even for those with experience.

Musk also brainstormed on Twitter about possible technology for a safe evacuation, suggesting that an air tunnel constructed with soft tubing like a Bouncy Castle could provide flexible passage out.

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For the Buddhist monks who keep nightly vigil outside the cave where 12 young boys and their soccer coach remain trapped, the dry weather is a sign their prayers are working.

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

The Thai defence ministry said a team from a Musk firm with drilling and exploration knowhow should reach the cave on Sunday. "I don't think they can use diving equipment".

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.

But as recently as two days ago officials said while it was now possible for rescuers to walk about 1.5 kilometres to the third chamber - the main staging point for rescuers - huge volumes of water remained in the cave.

Federation Internationale de Football Association president Gianni Infantino has written to the Thai FA to invite the 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave to the World Cup final.

"We would like to take the minimum risk possible", he said.

"It's pretty scary being in the dark", Alan Warild, captain of Australia's New South Wales Cave Rescue Squad, told VOA this week. The water is muddy and cold. They won't be able to see anything.

Experts say professional divers could guide the boys out, one by one.

Katadzic has not dived the final kilometre to where the boys are stranded on a muddy bank, the most unsafe part of the dive, during which rescuers have to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them to squeeze through submerged holes. "If there is more rain, there is more risk". According to Osottanakorn, current conditions of water, air and the children's health are still "most suitable" for evacuation. You have to be strong.

Families of the teenage soccer players have expressed their joy over the discovery of the boys.

"There's no best option", Warild said.