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Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

Water pumped from Thai cave as bid to rescue trapped boys intensifies

The boys, many wrapped in foil warming blankets, take turns introducing themselves, pressing their hands together in a traditional Thai greeting and saying their names and that they are healthy.

A navy source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the ABC three factors are driving the urgency - the water level inside the cave, the amount of oxygen available, and the health of the boys and their coach.

Maj. -Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakum, deputy commander of the Third Army Region, said it takes rescuers 11 hours to do a round-trip from the cave's entrance to the group and back again, working against water currents inside the cave.

Officials said Tuesday they might try to bring some of the boys out within a matter of hours, but they also said they do not want to take unnecessary risks. "As long as they know that we know where they are, they have food, a way to keep warm, water or filtration systems and light, it would be safest to wait it out, ' he told the BBC".

Rescue workers work next to water pumped out of Tham Luang cave complex, in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 5, 2018.

On Monday, British divers who were part of an global rescue team found all 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach alive but hungry in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system.

But as the group ventured deeper into the complex, the sky opened up and it began to rain, flooding the cave and cutting off their escape.

But Osatanakorn also said that while the team has been practicing with masks, he doesn't believe they have attempted any practice dives.

Since they were found late Monday local time by a duo of British expert cave divers, Thai Navy SEALs have stayed with the team, tending minor wounds and giving them food to build up their strength. It took the divers, John Volanthen and Richard Stanton, almost six hours to navigate through a treacherous maze of caverns and tunnels, both dry and flooded, with some barely wide enough for their diving equipment.

In all of the videos, the boys appeared in good spirits.

Seeing the boys has boosted the mood of relatives, and officials are working to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their children.

A video shared by the Thai Navy captured their first contact.

Rescuers took advantage of the relatively dry weather this week by pumping out as much water as possible from the cave.

The diving site reported that Belgian cave diver Ben Reymenants, who owns a business in Phuket, had discovered and placed a guideline in a new, wider channel with occasional air pockets, which should make the extraction easier and safer. "We hope there is no rain", he added.

The prospect of the stranded team diving out is fraught with risk.

Efforts to pump out floodwaters are continuing, but some Thai officials have indicated that heavy rains forecast for this weekend could force them to decide the boys should swim and dive out using the same complicated route through which their rescuers entered. But there are concerns that something could go awry on the way out, or the boys could panic underwater in the narrow tunnels and passageways.

CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy says rescuers are now looking for other entrances into the cave from above, to see if there is a chance they might be able to airlift the boys out.

Thailand is in the middle of its monsoon season which usually ends in mid-October.

The group remains stuck around two kilometers (1.24 miles) into the cave and somewhere between 800 meters and one kilometer (0.6 miles) below the surface, according to a British Cave Rescue Council briefing note. "Who is ready first can go first", Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters yesterday. Clearly we can't risk - we wouldn't risk - [their lives] just to get them out if they could be looked after, kept well, warm, and alive underground.

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