Federation Internationale de Football Association invites trapped Thai team to World Cup final

Heather Diaz
July 7, 2018

An elaborate plan to rescue a soccer team of 12 young boys and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand is taking shape. If we can get out, please can you take me to eat at a pan-fried pork restaurant?

Rescuers, including worldwide teams, are considering alternative ways to bring the group out before heavy rains hit the country's north next week which could further hamper the rescue operation.

Katadzic has not dived the final kilometre to where the boys are stranded on a muddy bank, the most risky part of the dive where rescuers have to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them to squeeze through submerged holes.

There is "limited time" to bring out 12 schoolboys and their football coach who have been trapped for two weeks inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand before heavy rains set in, the rescue mission's head says.

Authorities have confirmed the oxygen supply in the cave has fallen to 15%, compared to the normal 21% levels in the air, a situation which has been made worse by the number of rescue workers inside the cave.

"No, not today", Narongsak Osottanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai province, said after being pressed by reporters on rescue efforts. "We can't risk having the flood back into the cave".

A military operation - called "Wild Boar" - has commenced to rescue the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach.

They ventured in while the cave was dry but were caught out by a sudden deluge of rain, which flooded the system. The boys, although skinny, have been described as in good health.

Authorities say that they remain undeterred by the death of the rescue diver, and will continue the rescue mission as planned. "We are assessing weather conditions, if it rains and water level rises, how many hours, days do we have?" he said.

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The governor has said the 13 may not be extracted at the same time, depending on their condition. They've practiced wearing diving masks and breathing, in preparation for the possibility they may have to dive.

Asked how the boys could make it out safely if an experienced diver could not, Apakorn said they would take more precautions with children.

They are hoping an upgraded draining effort can lower the water in an area where it is still at or near the ceiling. "Although he resigned from the unit, he still loved and had a good connection with all the SEALs", the Thai Navy SEALs wrote in Thai in a Facebook post Friday, mourning the loss of Gunan.

Seeing the boys has boosted the mood of their family members, and officials are working to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their children.

One mother said she had not been able to contact her boy.

"It's like he has been given a new life", she said, adding that she'll never let her son go into a cave or near water again.

Other options under consideration are waiting out the monsoon - which could take months - or climbing out through a crack in the rock face, if one can be found. They boys are weak but for the most part physically healthy. The latest was Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind the Tesla automobile and the SpaceX rocket company, who said he would send engineers to help.

But Rasmusen said it's possible to teach the group minimal skills they would need to get out.

Rafael, 53, who is originally from Israel but has lived in Thailand for more than 30 years, said he had been inside the cave 25 years ago and found that it was more hard to navigate than other caves he had tackled.

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