Missing Soccer Team Reportedly Found Alive In Thailand

An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 soccer team

An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 football team Credit Reuters

Much-needed food and medical supplies - including high-calorie gels and paracetamol - reached them Tuesday as rescuers prepared for the possibility that they may be there for some time.

Divers searching for the team had been hampered repeatedly by rising rainwater that filled sections of the cave and forced them to withdraw for safety reasons.

The governor of the Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osottanakorn, spoke to reporters on Monday night, confirming the safety of the boys and their coach. When they got stuck, members of the Thai Navy and Air Force were called in to locate them in the cave system.

In the five-minute navy video, the boys are seen wearing their football uniforms and are calm, curious and polite.

The divers explain that they have to leave but will be back. "But they're all alive", he added.

One boy replies: "Oh".

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He said pumps are running 24 hours a day in an effort to get the water level inside the caves down, but there has been no information if it's making enough of a difference for the group to get out.

Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, the mother of 11-year-old Chanin Wiboonrungrueng, smiled and hugged her family as news of their discovery spread.

How did they get there?

. Flood waters after heavy rain have blocked their way out.

It is thought the boys could move through parts of the cave in dry conditions but rushing waters clogged the narrow passages with mud and debris, blocking visibility and access.

Divers had to navigate a series of sharp, narrow bends in near-darkness. They again reached the chamber on Sunday, said the Seals commander Rear Admiral Apakorn Yuukongkaew.

We know all of the group are "safe" with "signs of life" but now the massive global rescue effort has turned its attention to the next challenge - getting the group out of the cave. Several have been found and explorers have been able to descend into some, but so far it is not clear whether they lead to anywhere useful.

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But experts have cautioned that taking inexperienced divers through the unsafe corridors of muddy, zero-visibility waters would be very risky.

In addition to pumping out the flooded chambers, there have been efforts to find the source of the water flooding the cave in order to drain or divert it.

A rescuer assured them that "navy SEALs will come tomorrow, with food and doctors and everything".

The search teams have now surveyed all possible chimneys across the mountain, Osatanakorn said, and found two chimneys that are considered potentially viable options. That could take as long as months, however, given that Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October.

A photo released by Tuesday by the Royal Thai Army shows the missing youth soccer team alive in the cave.

Experts, divers and rescue teams from the US, United Kingdom, China, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Israel, Myanmar and Laos joined Thai officials to help rescue the 13 members of Mu Pa Academy Football Club. Despite confusion and frustration, they too remain hopeful.

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"I am so glad that I can not think of anything else", an uncle of a 13-year-old football player of Mu Pa Academy Mae Sai said.

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