MAE SAI, Thailand: A team of US military personnel and British divers joined rescue efforts at a flooded cave in northern Thailand where 12 children and their football coach have been trapped for five days as heavy overnight rains hampered the search.
Flood waters seeped into a second chamber of the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province forcing some of the rescue divers to turn back, according to officials.
The children, aged between 11 and 16, went into the cave Saturday and were trapped when heavy rains clogged the main entrance.
Around 1,000 Navy SEAL divers, police, soldiers, border guards and officials have been mobilised for the around-the-clock rescue in a remote border mountainous province near the Laos and Myanmar borders.
A team of American military personnel from the US Pacific Command, including pararescue and survival specialists, arrived at the site overnight to help rescue operations, according to an embassy spokeswoman.
“Operators are trained in personnel recovery tactics and techniques and procedures,” Jillian Bonnardeaux told AFP.
“Essentially what they’re looking at is assessing with the Thai authorities the potential courses of action and complementing the efforts underway,” she added.
Three British cave diving experts arrived at the scene late Wednesday and entered the cave in full kit before emerging about an hour later.
“We’ve got a job to do,” diver John Volanthen said as he went into the tunnel, declining to speak further.—AFP