The 17-strong special operations team entered Tham Luang cave in the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Nong forest reserve forest early this morning (June 25).
Capt Anant Surawan, the head of unconventional warfare, said there was a waterway in the cave that was narrow and had natural blockages. Other difficulties for the searchers included murky flood water and the strong current.
The cave, which is a tourist attraction, winds for many kilometres but it is not a dead end. It is connected to nearby caves.
The 12 missing footballers are aged 13-16 years and come from several local schools. Officials believed they and their 25-year-old coach may have been cut off by rising flood water in a curved section of the cave about three kilometres from the main entrance.
At about 7pm on Saturday, national park officials found a motorcycle and 11 bicycles left in front of the cave, with backpacks, football shoes and other sports equipment left in their baskets. The officials contacted the leader of the local football team in tambon Pong Pha, who confirmed that they belonged to 11 football players and the coach.
The players usually practice at the football field in Ban Pong Pha every weekend. On Saturday, after training, witnesses saw the coach and the football players enter the cave.
The park officials went about three kilometres into the cave to look for them, but had to abandon the search when heavy rain threatened to make the creek overflow and block their exit.
They believed the football players and the coach were still in the cave.
Rescuers will have to dive deep and clear natural blockages if they are to succeed in their mission.
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