Thailand's navy has released a new video of the Thai youth football team that was found alive in a cave nine days after they went missing, as rescuers braced for a long and hard evacuation of the 12 boys and their coach. "After this point you come to a dry area", Chalermphon Hongyon, president of the Water Rescue Club Region 7, told reporters.
A medic treats the boys in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3 video by a Thai Navy Seal.
Twelve boys have been trapped with their soccer coach for over a week in a cave in Thailand. According to Mr Narongsak, rescue teams are assessing how many days they have to pump the water out until the water level at Sam Yak falls to a manageable level and how many hours they will have if they can not maintain the water level.
In the first video shot by the rescuers in flickering torchlight 4 km (2.5 miles) from the mouth of the cave in Thailand's northernmost province showed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above an expanse of water. Rescue workers are now able to walk through a 1.5km (0.9 mile) stretch from the entrance to what's being called the third chamber.
Weather forecasts for the area are being closely monitored for heavy rain which could trigger further flooding. He said on Wednesday: "There are no other options besides getting them out through the flooded passages'".
"In the previous days we were fighting with time".
As of late Tuesday, about 120 million liters of water have been pumped out of the cave.
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But rescuers are also planning for other eventualities.
Another possibility would be to find an alternative way into their chamber, such as drilling a shaft into the cave from the forested mountain above. They have enlisted the help of bird-watchers, who are specialists in finding hidden holes, the AFP news agency reports.
Thai Navy Seal commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said there's no rush to bring them out as they are safe where they are, adding it would be extremely unsafe to have them dive through the dark, muddy water.
"We are racing against the rain", the coordinator of this rescue operation said yesterday. Numerous boys can not swim or dive, and there is a high risk they might panic in the dark, murky, narrow waterways.
The treacherous four-hour journey to safety will take at least two days of continuous individual rescues. "Thirteen? Brilliant", a diver is heard saying in video footage that shows the moment the boys were found perched on a ledge inside the cave complex.
The boys have been given food and treated for minor cuts.
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But the work has continued at an unrelenting pace.
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Time may be against them given the region's incessant monsoon rains.
Mr Srisamu said: 'He used his knowledge of the cave to calculate where the group was mostly likely to be.
But concern is mounting for both their physical and mental health after 12 days below ground - and it is not clear how they would be helped to survive months more in the cave.
The boys and their coach are being tended to around the clock by a team of Thai navy divers and a doctor. It was one boy's 16th birthday, and the team had taken a picnic.
But all of 13 stranded footballers are in a good state of mind and in high spirits, he said.
Huge volumes of water are being pumped out of the cave complex each day, but the narrow, winding passages inside the cave are still flooded, meaning diving through the murky water is now the only way in and out.
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