Evacuation of Thai Boys Must Wait
Thai officials ruled out any immediate attempts to evacuate 12 football players and their coach trapped deep inside a system of caves in northern Thailand on Saturday despite concerns over low oxygen levels underground and poor weather forecasts.
"No, not today," Narongsak Osottanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai province, said after being pressed by reporters on rescue efforts, reports CNN.
Officials are considering a rescue plan involving a "buddy dive" – where an experienced adult diver would swim with each boy – to evacuate the team members, according to a US official familiar with the joint rescue operation.
Thai divers would lead the mission and US divers would preposition oxygen tanks, the US official said. The rescue team also includes divers and workers from Australia, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe and Asia.
Thai military officials have been briefed, the source said, and the country's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was to be told about the plan Saturday morning.
The rescue mission could begin as soon as the weekend, but no decision has been made whether to proceed, the US official said.
The Thai boys have exchanged emotional letters with their parents, for the first time since their ordeal began two weeks ago, according to the BBC and CNN.
"Don't worry, we are all strong," one child said in a note. "Teacher, don't give us lots of homework!" he joked.
The team's coach apologized to parents in a separate letter, but parents wrote that he should not blame himself.