Diver dies during Thai cave rescue operation

Navy diver dies in attempt to deliver supplies to boys trapped in Thai cave

"We are awed by the bravery and strength that these young boys and their coach have shown amidst such frightening circumstances", it said on its website.

Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave greet members of the Thai rescue team in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal.

He said the oxygen line is also tied to a telephone line that will provide a channel of communication for the children.

Ekapol Chanthawong, the coach of the Wild Boars football team, wrote: "To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care".

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.

British divers Rick Stanton, a fireman in his fifties from Coventry, and John Volanthen, an IT consultant based in Bristol in his forties, were the first to reach the group.

Danish diving instructor Ivan Katadzic was on holiday in southern Thailand's beach resort of Krabi when he heard about 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave at the other end of the country.

The second phase - which calls for unsafe and risky "buddy diving" of the soccer team, in which they would each be accompanied by an experienced diver out of the cave network - could start as early as Sunday morning local time.

Friday's death of the former SEAL underscores those risks. The rescuer passed out and died from a lack of oxygen while on a mission supplying oxygen canisters, authorities told the Associated Press.

The strategically placed canisters allow divers to stay underwater longer during the five-hour trip to reach the stranded team.

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Thai divers would lead the mission and USA divers would preposition oxygen tanks, the United States official said.

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", he said.

More than 100 exploratory holes have been bored - some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep - into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into a unsafe dive through submerged tunnels.

Mr Narongsak said the boys were still healthy and have practised wearing diving masks and breathing in preparation for the diving possibility.

The local governor supervising the rescue mission said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created appropriate conditions for an underwater evacuation, but that they won't last if it rains again. However, not all of them can swim and some areas of the cave network where they disappeared after going exploring following a soccer game are still flooded all the way to the ceiling. The idea is to get some headroom so the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.

Narongsak said experts told him flooding from new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters (108 square feet).

And without proper oxygen levels, staying put could also prove deadly.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has sent a team of engineers to Thailand to see if they can help in the rescue effort.

Mr Musk tweeted the announcement after another Twitter user pleaded for him to help the 12 boys and their coach.

One of his enterprises is Boring Co., which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar.

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