Thai Diver Dies During Cave Rescue Operations

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The effort to rescue 12 boys and their adult soccer coach trapped in a cave in northern Thailand took a tragic turn Friday as a former Thai Navy SEAL lost his life during a mission to deliver oxygen deep inside the tunnels.

The diver ran out of oxygen as he was placing tanks throughout the cave for a potential rescue mission, authorities in Thailand said.

Two Britons, John Volanthen and Richard Stanton, were among the divers who found the boys and their coach marooned on a bank inside the cave.

MAE SAI, THAILAND-Authorities overseeing the rescue operation for 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand said they have a "limited amount of time" to get them out, as they raced against worsening weather and lessening oxygen underground.

The death lays bare the difficulties of extracting the boys from the cave, none of whom are professional divers and and are all in a weakened state after being trapped since 23 June.

The boys are now learning how to swim and scuba dive because some parts of the cave are too narrow for more than one person to pass.

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A medical assessment of the 12 boys and their coach stuck in a cave in Northern Thailand has concluded that it is too risky to try to move the group out Thursday, according to a member of the Thai Navy SEALs who is not authorized to speak to the media.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain expected by Saturday nearly surely will raise water levels again in the cave, making passage in some areas even more hard, if not impossible.

This is a breaking story. However, after hearing news about the missing football team, he rejoined the navy's rescue operation as a volunteer.

Cave rescue experts have said it could be safest to simply supply the boys where they are for now, and wait for the water to go down.

"Saman left us while working with his SEAL team brothers at a time where all frogmen put their arms around each other and move forward to complete the mission that is set".

Equipped with diving gears, flashlights, and strong will to save the boys, the Thai Navy SEALs ventured deeply into the 6-miles long cave complex with floodwater that reaches up to their chins, as seen in several pictures they posted.

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The rescue mission is proving to be hard for divers whose efforts are continually hampered by rising water that has filled sections of the cave, often forcing them to halt efforts.

Numerous boys, who are aged between 11 and 16, can not swim and none of them have diving experience. "I don't think anybody has".

"At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time. but now things have changed, we have a limited time", Thailand Navy SEAL commander Apakorn Yookongkaew told reporters on Friday.

The Danish cave diver said the key challenge was that children were involved.

However more rain is forecast this weekend, putting pressure on rescuers to act soon or have to contend with even higher water levels inside the cramped chambers. It was too unsafe to leave the boys much longer, Yoo-kongkaew said, despite the risks involved in attempting to bring them out. Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October.

Mr Doytibet, who is part of a back-up unit sending supplies to the Thai-led, multinational rescue teams, said the water temperature is below 10 deg C, which could affect the boys' physical condition.

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