Bangkok: There was still no sign of a missing teenage foot ball team trapped inside one of Thailand’s longest caves as the search entered its fifth day on Wednesday, officials said. Continuing heavy rain has made the rescue operation difficult, forcing officials to wade through rising floodwater inside Tham Laung-Khun Nam Nang Non Cave, which stretches out for more than 10 kilometres in northern Thailand near the border with Myanmar, rescuers said.
“The water pumps worked well, but they are not enough. Due to the heavy rain, the water keeps rising at the rate of 6 inches an hour,” the SEAL naval unit which conducted the search earlier posted on its Facebook page early on Wednesday.
“We are doing our best to drain the water out,” the team added. On Saturday, a dozen boys aged 13-16 and their 25-year-old football coach decided to see the sights in the cave after a training session.
They have not been seen since. Their bicycles at the cave entrance are the only sign they were there.
Traces of their handprints and footprints found inside the cave are a good sign they may still be alive, officials said. They are also heartened by the discovery of their backpacks. The parents of the children have camped out in front of the cave.
With time passing, the search has intensified. Drones and helicopters are inspecting holes linked to the cave. Expert divers are flying in from the United States and Britain to aid the diving team, according to the Bangkok Post. — dpa