Thailand cave rescue: Supplies sent down shaft as desperate search for missing youth soccer team continues

Packages filled with water, food, medicine and torches were dropped down a shaft in the mountainside of a Thailand cave in hopes of reaching 12 boys and their soccer coach who went missing nearly a week ago.

A note addressed to the team was also included in the package. Police are not exactly sure where they are but remain hopeful the team found refuge before massive rainfall flooded the entrance to the cave complex that extends several miles.

“If the children find this box we want them to float the box out the cave,” Colonel Kraiboon Sotsong said, according to Sky News. “The note says: ‘If received, then reply and show on the map where you are. Everybody will quickly help.’”


The boys, ages 11 to 16, and their coach entered the sprawling Tham Luang Nang Non cave after a soccer game on Saturday afternoon, but near-constant rains since then have thwarted the search for them.

Rescue personnel walk out of the entrance to a cave complex where it's believed that 12 soccer team members and their coach went missing, Thursday, June 28, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. A U.S. military team and British cave experts joined the rescue effort for 12 boys and their soccer coach missing for five days inside the cave being flooded by near-constant rains. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Rescuers work at the entrance to a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand.  (AP)

Muddy floodwaters continued to block the entrance of the cave on Friday despite a several-day effort to drain the water. Rescuers kept working outside the cave, trying to find hidden shafts in the green mountainside to access the cave complex.

A U.S. military rescue crew and British cave experts joined Thai Navy SEAL divers for the search on Thursday.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the flooded cave complex on Friday and urged relatives waiting outside to not give up hope.

“There has to be faith. Faith makes everything a success,” he said. “Faith in the action of officials. Faith in our children who are strong and vigorous. Everything will go back to normal.”

The mission to save the group reportedly suffered its first major mishap on Friday when at least three rescuers near the entrance apparently suffered shocks caused by jerry-rigged electrical lines fed into the caverns to power lights and pumps.

Journalists saw workers run out of the cave shouting that some rescuers had been injured and to shut off the electricity immediately.

Ambulances quickly arrived and witnesses saw three men being carried out on stretchers. Police said their injuries were minor and the men were in stable condition.

Soldiers carry a pump to help drain the rising flood water in a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Friday, June 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai soldiers carry a water pump to drain the water from a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand.  (AP)

Chiang Rai province Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, however, later said the incident was a misunderstanding, and all that had happened was that a worker had fainted from exhaustion after long hours without eating. There was no immediate explanation of the discrepancy.

The divers have oxygen tanks but still must have enough space between the water and the cave ceiling to surface for air and to ensure their safety in the muddy waters that fill rocky passages, some so tight the divers must bend their bodies to advance through them.


The cave complex extends several miles and has wide chambers and narrow passageways with rocky outcrops and changes in elevation. The chamber is about 2.5 miles from the entrance of the cave, which is thought to be about 4 to 5 miles long and cut into a mountainside in far northern Thailand near the border with Myanmar.

The team trying to find a way to drain the water dug until 1 a.m. to a depth of 30 meters (98 feet) but did not find any wells, said Ekchawin Longpinit from the Thai Underground Water Department. About a dozen workers were drilling at the same spot Friday morning.

"We will continue to drill today, and more drill equipment is being sent" to explore more spots to drill, Ekchawin said.

Fox News' Travis Fedschun and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang