Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said rescuers had manage to reach the “Sam Yak” three-way junction – and now the most critical section of the murky underground labyrinth lies ahead.
“This is today’s focus. The passage must be penetrated. It is very narrow... They have not yet reached ‘the (Pattaya) beach’,” Governor Narongsak said.
Turning left from Sam Yak, the passage ascends, drops steeply and then bends to the left – and is not yet accessible to foreign divers and their equipment, the governor said.
“Pattaya Beach” is about two kilometres from the divers’ forward command centre in the sprawling cave network’s third chamber – a total of roughly five kilometres from the main entrance of the cave in the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Nong forest park in Thailand’s northernmost district of Mae Sai.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said in Bangkok that rescuers hoped to reach “Pattaya Beach” today – but the strong water current in the narrow passage presents a major obstacle.
All-out efforts continued to drain water from the cave and prevent fresh water from flowing into it, further raising the water level.
Above the cave, officials and volunteers were searching for shafts that might provide a back door into the cave.
“We are exploring 11 potential shafts today. The deepest one is 200 metres. If it goes down through, we will be very lucky,” the Chiang Rai governor said.
Meanwhile, the navy deployed 20 more “Seal” divers to the site, increasing their numbers to 84.
They were working together with about 230 policemen, 840 soldiers and dozens of rescuers and officials from countries around the globe to locate 12 young footballers aged 11-16 and their 26-year-old coach trapped by floodwaters deep underground.
The boys and their coach entered the cave after their football practice on June 23 – and the search mission entered its 10th day today.
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