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Navy diver dies in attempt to deliver supplies to boys trapped in Thai cave

THAILAND: A Thai navy diver working as part of the effort to rescue a dozen boys and their football coach trapped in a flooded cave has died from a lack of oxygen.

Samarn Kunan, a former Thai SEAL, was working in a volunteer capacity and died during an overnight mission in which he was placing oxygen canisters.

Thai SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew said while underwater, the rescuer passed out and efforts to resuscitate the 38-year-old failed.

“Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission,” Mr. Arpakorn said.

Thai authorities are racing to pump out water from a flooded cave where the boys and their coach have been trapped since June 23, before more rains are forecast to hit the northern region.

Yesterday Chiang Rai provincial Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said he asked the SEALs in charge of extraction plans to estimate what sort of a risk would be involved to bring out the boys and their coach even though they weren’t 100% ready for a risky dive.

Diving experts have warned they don’t think all the boys will survive the efforts to remove them because of the dangers and had advised waiting until October when they will be able to float or even walk out.

However, officials would prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain expected by Saturday almost surely will raise water levels again in the cave, making passage in some areas even more difficult, if not impossible.

‘We can no longer wait for all conditions (to be ready) because the circumstance is pressuring us,’ Mr. Arpakorn said.

‘We originally thought the boys can stay safe inside the cave for quite some time but circumstances have changed. We have a limited amount of time.’

The boys, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province after a football game on June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nine days.

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