‘Limited time’ for daring rescue mission to free Thailand’s trapped boys

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Thai military honor guards transport a coffin containing the remains of a former Thai Navy Seal Petty Officer 1st class Saman Kunan, who died in the ongoing Tham Luang cave rescue operations, during a repatriation ceremony at Mae Fah Luang global airport in Chiang Rai province, Thailand. Authorities later confirmed that Kunan died after running out of oxygen. "We won't let the life lost be wasted".

Arpakorn also told reporters Friday that time to rescue the boys is now "limited", though he did not specify the reasons.

Kunan, 38, was returning from delivering oxygen tanks to the cavern where the boys are when he ran out of air while underwater. As they returned, Samarn fell unconsious about 1.5 kms from the cave entrance. "He did not have enough on his way back".

The local governor supervising the rescue mission said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created appropriate conditions for an underwater evacuation, but that they won't last if it rains again.

"A navy SEAL just passed away last night".

"This is my backyard", said Brandon Fox, a 36-year-old from MI who lives in Mae Sai and has been coming to the site daily to help out with everything from trash collection to translation.

"There will be rain and many things could go wrong".

"On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and commend his true bravery and selflessness in service to his country", Davies said in a statement.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his condolences over Samarn's death but it would not deter the rescue teams, a spokesman said.

The diver's mission was to bring oxygen tanks and carry lines along the passageways between a forward operating base and the muddy embankment where the children and coach are sheltering. Rescue crews have assessed that the ongoing effort to pump water out from the main entrance of the cave has reached a point where it's becoming less and less effective, and placing pumps further inside the cave - beyond the 800 meter mark, where they now are - does not seem possible.

Rescue teams have been pumping millions of liters of water from the cave in an attempt to lower water levels to the extent that the boys can simply walk out.

The boys and the coach are stranded in Tham Luang Nang Non cave network since June 23.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their assistant coach were found inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Chiang Rai province on Monday, after nine days underground. When they come out they want to go back home immediately.

But rescuers now have to figure out how to get them out, through several kilometres of dangerously flooded tunnels, or even to attempt to bring them out for now.

A firefighter who has been working on draining the water said levels in parts of the passage leading to the chamber were still flooded all the way to the ceiling, making diving the only way out.

But getting them out won't be easy. It is thought that some can not even swim.

Rescuers are considering other options including keeping the 13 inside the cave until the flood waters recede at the end of the rainy season in about four months.

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