A teenage soccer team and their coach are thought to be trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. A search is presently underway to rescue the 12 players and coach.
The team has been missing since Saturday and investigators believe the team crawled into the Tham Luang Nang Non Cave through a narrow 15-meter long channel.
The rising tide then blocked the path, which is about as wide as a single person. The group was then stuck inside the cave network, Kamolchai Kotcha, an official with Thailand’s national parks authority, told CNN.
“We have been working almost 24 hours but there are many limitations, the caves are pitch dark and very low level of oxygen in some areas, and scattering rains just made our task more difficult,” said Kotcha.
Park officials have been working with the local police and 17 members of the SEAL diving team from the Royal Thai Navy. They were deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts. The divers entered the cave chamber on Monday morning to look for the missing group.
A post on the Thai Royal Navy SEAL page at 4 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) stated: “It is still drizzling (and) water level is rising. Handprints were found around cave’s wall. But we still cannot locate the kids. Rescue operation continues.”
An image posted on the Facebook page reported that SEAL divers have to dive to a depth of five meters to access the main chamber, where the missing people are believed to be located.
The 13 people, all males from Chiang Rai, have been missing since 1 p.m. local time Saturday. A park officer spotted bicycles parked idly by the entrance to the cave even though the area is off-limits.
The caves are located in a well-known spot for local explorers and tourists in the northern province of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai District.
Northern Thailand is famous for its remote and untouched caves, which draw visitors from around the world.