Thailand cave rescue: Ambulances arrive and media blocked from entering site

Heather Diaz
July 8, 2018

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are ideal (for evacuation) in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health", Osottanakorn, the chief of the rescue operation told reporters.

But Narongsak said at a news conference on Friday that if heavy rains started and appeared to be causing flooding in further areas of the cave, divers would attempt to evacuate the boys immediately.

Earlier, at the sprawling cave mouth below, lines of frogmen and soldiers with flashlights could be seen emerging from the darkness, as generators chugged and pumped water out from blue nylon pipes.

In an update early Saturday Narongsak Osatanakorn, the local governor in charge of the operation, said it was "not suitable" to make the boys dive to safety yet.

"We lost one man, but we still have faith to carry out our work", Yookongkaew said.

"We estimate that (they) are 600 meters down, but we don't know the (exact) target", he said.

Ambulances have arrived at the Thailand cave site where rescue teams have been making preparations to save 12 trapped boys and their soccer coach amid reports the rescue could be underway - or at least imminent.

The boys see their situation in less grandiose terms, according to their notes home, which were made public Saturday. "I love everyone!" wrote Pheerapat, nicknamed "Night", who turned 16 underground. "If I get out please take me to a pork barbecue place".

One boy, Mick, wrote: "Don't be anxious, I miss everyone". 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 love Dad, Mom, younger sibling and family".

Peerapat, 16, wrote: "I love Dad, Mum and [my] brother".

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"Love you Mom and Dad, don't worry, I'm safe already".

Mr Infantino wrote: "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". "But don't worry. But don't forget my birthday".

Another, of indistinct origin, asked their teacher not to give them a lot of homework.

Teams are drilling multiple shafts through hundreds of metres of mountainside to try to reach them while industrial pumps are working round the clock in an attempt to clear water from the tunnels and hopefully allow them to escape on foot.

The boys' coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, wrote to the parents as a group, promising to take care of them as best as he could. Please take good care of yourself. "Thank you for your kind support and I would like to say I'm really sorry to you all", he wrote.

A scrawled message emerges from the coach of the team, offering his "apologies" to their parents.

Rescuers have been unable to extend a hose pumping oxygen all the way to where the boys are, but have brought them some oxygen tanks.

The boys have been practising wearing dive masks and breathing in case they have to be brought out underwater, but it has also been suggested that they may have to wait months inside until a safe way out is available.

An update Saturday from the Thai navy said three navy SEALs were with the boys and their coach, one a doctor. The 13 are having health evaluations and rehabilitation, and being taught diving skills.

But Osottanakorn said divers are delivering air tanks to the chamber where the team is stuck and opening them up.

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