THE effort to rescue the 12 youths and their coach stranded deep in a flooded cave took on a tragic turn when a former Navy diver died late Thursday evening during the operation.
But the boys - ages 11 to 16 - are thought to be novice swimmers at best, and frail after having spent almost two weeks underground since they entered the cave after soccer practice June 23 and were trapped by floodwaters.
High-powered pumps are clearing 50,000 gallons of water out of the cave every hour, helped by relatively dry weather over the past week.
First message reads "I love dad, mom, and big brother". Tell my brother to be ready to bring me fried chicken.
They were touched by his letter - but still full of concern for the boys. Grandpa, uncle, mom dad, and siblings I love you all. Don't worry, I'm safe.
Technology guru Elon Musk, who is consulting on possible rescue methods, tweeted that he was considering "a tiny, kid-size submarine" for a rescue.
"Don't worry. I really miss everyone".
"Mums and dads are not angry at you".
"On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and commend his true bravery and selflessness in service to his country", Davies said in a statement.
Duangpetch "Dom" Promthep, 13, called on his parents not to forget to throw him a birthday party.
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A Thai army medic sits in an ambulance on standby for the rescue operation in a restricted area near Tham Luang cave. But more rain could erase that progress.The group's 25-year-old soccer coach, trapped with his 12 players aged 11 to 16, has written an apology to the children's parents, which was ferried out by expert divers attending to the group trapped in the cave.
"On behalf of the worldwide football community, I would like to join you in expressing my deepest sympathies and support to the families of the players and coach, as well as my solidarity with the people of Thailand at this time of great concern". I am staying inside also happy.
"To my grandma and aunt, I'm here".
"I can guarantee that three to four days from now is the most favourable time for the operation and rescue mission using one of the action plans".
The boys, who are between the ages of 11 to 16, are now being cared for by Navy SEALs.
Nasan Konkayan, team leader of the bird's nest collectors, said they hiked from the top of the cave to where they believed the boys were stuck below, but could not find an opening. "Some [of the chimneys] are as deep as 400 meters. but they still can not find their location yet", he added.
"We've been rehearsing many ways, both on land, air and water". Oxygen levels are decreasing because of the numbers of workers inside the cave. Due to high water levels, the only way for the boys to get out of the cave would be by diving, something cave rescue experts warn is extremely unsafe, even for those with experience.
"There's also carbon dioxide".
The group have so far received training in how to breathe through scuba masks but the challenging conditions within the cave make the rescue mission considerably more unsafe. Samarn Kunan, 38, lost consciousness due to a lack of oxygen while diving.
Rescue divers have added guide ropes along the passageways in an effort to help the team out.