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Floodwater was pumped from Luang Cave throughout the night Thursday night, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said, and plans had been adjusted in the search for access holes through the ceiling of the cave where 12 youths and their assistant football coach have been missing since Saturday.
Rescue efforts involving the public and private sectors and British and American experts have been hampered by continuous heavy downpours adding to the muddy floodwater in the dark cave. Narongsak said water was being pumped out to clear the way for the “Plan A” team led by Royal Thai Navy SEALs and including veteran scuba divers from overseas.
Meanwhile the “Plan B” team was scouting the mountaintop above the cave looking for alternative accessways.
A third team was drilling through cave walls to open another entrance, an operation requiring careful calculations by engineers and a vehicle to move the two-tonne drill into place.
“The drilling has to be precise because it’s limestone and we don’t want to affect the cave structure and harm the ones trapped inside,” Narongsak said.
Ambulances have been rushing in and out of the site in recent days in practice runs and a helicopter lift is being planned in case anyone on the football team emerges seriously injured, he said.
“Last night I was in front of cave until midnight giving instructions. People asked why I had to be there personally, and I said the warlord giving orders keeps the army’s morale up. I told the rescue teams to think of these 12 boys as their own children as they make their plans, so they have the courage to work at full capacity.”