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File photo of the stranded group
File photo of the stranded group

Thai cave rescue stalled due to rain forecast

ANI | Updated: Jul 07, 2018 05:41 IST

Chiang Rai [Thailand], July 07 (ANI): All attempts to rescue the 12 members of a youth football team and their coach from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system have been put on hold for the moment due to a rain forecast.
"No, not today," CNN quoted Narongsak Osottanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai province as saying.
Thai Navy SEAL chief Rear Adm. Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew had earlier suggested that oxygen levels underground had dropped to 15 percent, which posed the risk of hypoxia, a medical condition caused due to lack of oxygen supply to tissues.
However, despite concerns of falling oxygen levels inside the cave, Governor Osottanakorn said that UK experts had suggested that the chamber where the children, aged between 11-16, were located were 'alright'.
"The kids are still able to walk around, play around comfortably. If there is heavy rain and the situation is not good, we will try," said the Governor.
With heavy rains forecasted for the weekend, the Governor dismissed the idea of an immediate rescue, saying that efforts will be initiated only if the was the risk to rescuers' lives were minimal.
"We are afraid of the weather and the lack of oxygen in the cave but we have to try to set the plan and find which plan is the best," Osottanakorn said.
Earlier, the authorities had indicated that the least risky plan was to let the kids be in the cave till the monsoon season was over in October, by when water levels inside the cave would drop enough to enable them to simply walk out.
Another approach was to use full-face oxygen masks and accompanying them out on a treacherous swim through pitch black tunnels. Osottanakorn had hinted towards the children being imparted diving lessons but conceded that they were not ready yet.
It is estimated that it would take five hours for even experienced divers to cross the four-kilometre stretch, with the UK divers who had first reached the stranded group stating that the dive was "gnarly" and full of tight passages submerged in low-visibility water.
On Friday, a Thai diver had died while taking part in the operation to save the trapped group.
The deceased Thai rescuer was identified as 38-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Samarn Kunan. He was delivering oxygen tanks and on the way back he fell unconscious, upon which, he brought out and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. (ANI)