Water, mud block rescue attempt for 12 boys inside Thai cave

Bangkok:  Multiple attempts to locate 12 boys and their soccer coach missing in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for nearly two days have failed, but officials said on Monday that they will keep trying.

The boys, aged 11-15, are believed to have entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave with their coach late on Saturday afternoon. A mother reported that her son never returned from soccer practice that day, setting off the search.

Rescue teams gather at the entrance of a deep cave where a group of boys went missing in Chang Rai, northern Thailand.

Rescue teams gather at the entrance of a deep cave where a group of boys went missing in Chang Rai, northern Thailand.

On an attempt at dawn on Monday, divers were unable to reach a large chamber deep inside the cave where the students might be, said Kamolchai Kotcha, an official at the forest park in Chiang Rai province where the cave is located.

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

Further attempts later Monday also failed to locate the boys, though rescue teams have found "traces" of them inside the cave, police in Mae Sai district said on their Facebook page. They did not provide details.

"Right now, our family is hoping that the children trapped inside will have formed a group and are safe and waiting for officials to go in and save them in time. That's what I'm hoping," Noppadol Kantawong, the father of one of the missing boys, told Thai PBS on Sunday.

Bicycles left by a group of boys who went missing parked outside a deep cave in Chang Rai, northern Thailand.

Bicycles left by a group of boys who went missing parked outside a deep cave in Chang Rai, northern Thailand.

Footage on Thai television showed bicycles, backpacks and soccer cleats left outside the entrance to the cave. The area was filled with soldiers and rescue personnel.

The cave can flood severely during Thailand's rainy season, which runs from June to October.

The large chamber where officials are hoping to find the boys is about 4 kilometres  from the entrance of the cave, which is thought to be about 6-8 km long.

According to Kamolchai, tourists trapped in the cave by past floods have been rescued after the water receded a few days later.

AP

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