The Thai youth soccer team that has been trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks will not be evacuated Friday, officials said — despite plummeting oxygen levels and monsoon rains expected to hit soon.
“We have to try to set the plan and find which plan is the best,” said Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn, according to the Guardian.
Osottanakorn said the boys have learned to dive and are in good health, but the rescue mission won’t kick into action even if the skies open up Friday night because it’s still too risky given the amount of water in the caves and that the plan needs to be tested.
But swimming out remains the group’s best hope, he said. Rescuers have drilled almost 100 shafts into the cave but aren’t optimistic about breaking through to the boys.
“They went in from the front, so they have to come out from the front,” said Osottanakorn, according to local outlet Khaosod English.
Officials announced earlier that oxygen levels inside the labyrinthine cavern system are now at 15 percent — down from a standard level of 21 percent — putting the kids at risk of hypoxia, which can be fatal.
But Osottanakorn said divers are delivering air tanks to the chamber where the team is stuck and opening them up.
He said the boys — 12 soccer players and their adult coach — are getting letters from their loved ones and that he has also been in contact with the families every day.
“I talk to them every day, if they’d like us to take the kids out, it has to be in the minimum risk,” he said.
The news follows the death of Saman Kunan, a former Thai navy SEAL who was volunteering on the rescue mission and whose own air ran out while he was placing air tanks throughout the cave.
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