A former Thai navy diver helping to rescue a football team trapped inside a flooded cave died Friday as officials warned the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is "limited".
Thailand is holding its breath for the safe return of the group, with heavy rains forecast and fears mounting over the falling amount of oxygen and high level of water in the cave. "We will not let our fallen brother die in vain".
"His job was to deliver oxygen". As they returned, Samarn fell unconsious about 1.5 kms from the cave entrance.
And there is now a "limited amount of time" left and little choice but to attempt the tricky extraction and get the boys out, Thailand's Navy SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew said.
Authorities in Thailand say that they will not immediately attempt an underwater evacuation of 12 schoolboys who have been trapped in a cave for nearly two weeks because they have not learned adequate diving skills in the few days since searchers reached the area where they are sheltering.
Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Cade Courtley, a former US Navy SEAL said bringing the children out through the flooded tunnels could be treacherous. "How about a 12-year-old boy that will have to pass through?" said Rafael Aroush, an Israeli living in Thailand and volunteer at the site. "I'm ready to fly to Chiang Rai", he says, while also noting who else was on the flight.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his condolences over Samarn's death but it would not deter the rescue teams, a spokesman said. They would have to carry at least three oxygen tanks to reach them before replacing the tanks again as they leave.
Officials would prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain expected by Saturday will nearly certainly raise water levels again in the cave, making passage in some areas even more hard, if not impossible.
M - Petty Officer Saman Gunan lost consciousness on his way out of the Tham Luang cave complex, where he had been delivering supplies, BBC reports.
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. When they come out they want to go back home immediately.
Officials hope an upgraded draining effort can lower the water in an area where it is still at or near the ceiling.
"Everybody is focusing on getting these boys out - keeping them alive or getting them out". Numerous boys reportedly do not know how to swim and do not have experience using scuba equipment. Some of the boys can not swim.
The US official said a plan to route oxygen into the chamber where the boys are was also called off due to challenge of routing cable through cave system.
One possibility is that the 13 stay put in the Tham Luang cave until the flood waters recede, at the end of the rainy season in about four months.
If the weather is on their side and enough water can be pumped out of the cave, the boys could get out the same way they got in, on foot, perhaps with some swimming. Drilling on the north side was suspended, as engineers and geologists work to find an alternate location closer to the stranded group.