The head of the rescue mission to recover 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach has said that there is “limited time” left to save the group, who have been stuck in a flooded cave for two weeks.
The warning comes just a day after a Thai diver died after running out of oxygen during part of the rescue operation.
“The critical point is when it rains again … There is limited time,” said Narongsak Osottanakorn, the head of the rescue mission and Chiang Rai’s former governor.
He also said that falling oxygen levels in the cave were a “really big concern”.
Efforts are being made to drain the cave, as not all of the boys are capable swimmers.
They are being taught how to scuba dive, though it will be a difficult journey for the inexperienced swimmers, with the passageways being narrow and muddy.
The final kilometre of the cave that divers have to get through, closest to the bank the boys are stranded on, is particularly dangerous, with divers having to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them to squeeze through narrow holes.
Possible alternatives to having the boys swim out are being explored, including drilling down to the boys through 600 meters of fragile limestone, or stocking the cave with oxygen and supplies to last through the monsoon season.