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Flooding complicates search for youth soccer team, coach missing in Thai cave

Flooding complicates search for youth soccer team, coach missing in Thai cave”

Rescuers found bicycles and a motorbike at the entrance of the cave on Monday, and divers said they spotted footprints in one of the cave's chambers.

But rescue efforts, which include a 17-member unit of the Royal Thai Navy and underwater drones, have been hampered by rising waters and poor visibility inside the cave. "That's what I'm hoping", said Noppadol Kantawong, the father of one of the missing boys.

Navy SEAL divers equipped with oxygen tanks and food rations entered the cave early Tuesday in northern Chiang Rai province, where light rains continued to fall.

"I believe they're all still alive but they might be exhausted. we should get good news today", Rear Admiral Arparkorn Yookongkaew told Reuters.

Rising waters Monday evening first frustrated efforts to search farther in the cave, and the efforts were halted temporarily.

One of their mothers raised the alarm when her son failed to return home.

Bicycles, backpacks and football cleats the boys left behind remained at the entrance of the cave. "I hope that all 13 of them will be out", said Namhom Boonpiam, mother of 13-year-old, Mongkol Boonpiam who is missing.

The group is believed to have retreated into the cave as heavy monsoon rain fell and flooded the entrance of the cave in a national park near the border with Myanmar.

Hundreds of people have been mobilised to find the youngsters who went into the Tham Luang cave on Saturday and were trapped when heavy rains flooded its main entrance.

'We hope that the water level has gone down, but we will have to see, ' he said.

"We've found traces but no people yet", Chote Narin, an officer at Mae Sai district police station, said Monday afternoon, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

According to a guidebook on the region's caves, Tham Luang Nang Non is only passable between November and June due to flooding during Thailand's rainy season.

During Monday's attempt, divers were unable to reach a large chamber deep inside the cave where the students might be, according to an official at the forest park in Chiang Rai province, where the cave is located.

"I haven't slept and I hope that all of them can come out, all safe and sound", she said.

Northern Thailand is famous for its remote and untouched caves, which draw visitors from around the world.

The passage to the chamber is extremely small, flooded and "covered with sand and mud", Kamolchai Kotcha said.

He said they would wait for water pumps to be brought in which would hopefully help them access another passageway.

The members of the team, the Wild Boars, have been known to cycle mountain roads and swim in waterfalls together when they are not playing football together.

The authorities have also been seeking alternative ways in, using helicopters and search parties on foot to find holes that might exist in the ceilings of other parts of the cave.



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