A search is underway to rescue 12 teenage soccer players and their coach who are thought to be trapped in a cave in northern Thailand.
Investigators believe the group, who have been missing since Saturday, crawled into the Tham Luang Nang Non Cave through a narrow 15-meter long channel.
Rising waters then blocked the path, which is about as wide as a single person, leaving the group stuck inside the cave network, Kamolchai Kotcha, an official with Thailand’s national parks authority, told CNN.
“We have been working almost 24 hours but there are many limitations, the caves are pitch dark and very low level of oxygen in some areas, and scattering rains just made our task more difficult,” said Kotcha.
Park officials, local police and 17 SEALs from the Royal Thai Navy have been deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts. Divers will attempt to enter the channel if the water is clear enough, Kotcha said.
The 13 people, all males from Chiang Rai, have been missing since 1 p.m. local time Saturday, when a park officer spotted something amiss — bicycles parked idly by the entrance to the cave, despite it being off-limits.
The cave is located in a well-known spot for local explorers and tourists in the northern province of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai District.
Northern Thailand is famous for its remote and untouched caves, which draw visitors from around the world.