In Brief

Fears for youth football team trapped in cave

Thai navy divers race to save 12 boys and coach cut off by flash floods

A massive rescue operation has been launched to find a dozen schoolboys and a football coach who have been trapped for two days in a cave in northern Thailand.

The boys, members of a youth football team, entered the Tham Luang-Khunnam Nang Non cave on Saturday afternoon, according to Singapore-based newspaper The Strait Times. They became trapped when a flash flood caused a stream to overflow at the entrance to the underground complex, a tourist attraction in a national park near the Myanmar and Laos borders.

Emergency workers and 17 divers from the Thai navy’s Underwater Demolition Assault Unit are searching for the missing players, all aged between 11 and 15.

Police said the caves can flood up to five metres during the rainy season, which runs from June to October, and are pitch black with very low oxygen levels, making the rescue operation more difficult.

“Right now, our family is hoping that the children trapped inside will have formed a group and are safe and waiting for officials to go in and save them in time. That’s what I’m hoping,” the father of one of the missing boys told the Thai Public Broadcasting Service yesterday.

The boys and their 25-year-old coach are believed to have gone to the park after a training session. 

The alarm was raised by the mother of one of the players after her son failed to return home that evening. National park officials later found a motorbike and bicycles left in front of the cave, with backpacks, football shoes and other sports equipment left in their baskets, reports the Bangkok Post.

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