Diver dies in Thailand cave rescue operation

Diver dies in Thailand cave rescue operation

The image showed Samarn Kunan standing with the rest of the volunteers prior to him going on a mission that involved him placing oxygen canisters in the cave.

Gunan was considered a highly trained diver, which highlights the difficulties facing rescuers as they contemplate ways to free the team from the cave before more heavy rains flood the cave system again.

The rescue effort suffered a disheartening setback Friday with the death of a former Thai navy SEAL diving in the flooded passageways to deliver supplies, as authorities raced against worsening weather and lessening oxygen.

Katadzic has not dived the final kilometre to where the boys are stranded on a muddy bank, the most risky part of the dive where rescuers have to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them to squeeze through submerged holes.

Teams of Thai and global divers have since supplied them with food, oxygen and medical attention, but there are mounting concerns about the oxygen level in the chamber, which officials said had fallen to 15%.

"Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission", Arpakorn vowed.

Officials initially thought they could keep the boys and their coach in the cave where they are trapped for up to four months, until waters dropped sufficiently for them to be able to walk out.

The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route to where the boys and others are sheltered, Thai SEAL commander Rear Adm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew said.

Authorities are trying to work out how best to bring the group to safety, with officials stressing they do not intend to take any risks with the boys' safety.

The influx of rain would further fill up passageways in the Tham Luang cave network, which are already partially flooded, Sky News reported on Friday. The kids, some of whom can't even swim, are expected to wear scuba gear, with experienced divers by their side at all times. The 38-year-old retired Thai Navy SEAL did so by choice. We have limited amount of time'.

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Here's a look at why the rescue operation is fraught with perils and risks. The boys are weak but for the most part physically healthy.

What happened to the Thai navy diver?

"We are talking kilometers of transport under the water with zero visibility", said Claus Rasmusen, a certified cave diving instructor based in Thailand who has been helping Thai SEAL team with logistics.

One of Kunan's longtime friends, Sgt. Anuram Kaewchano, told CNN he was shocked to learn the news.

When the group never returned from the hike, Thai officials launched an extensive search-and-rescue operation involving more than 1,000 people, including specialists drafted from various nations such as Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Thai authorities are also racing to pump out water from the cave, but with more rains forecast to hit the situation has become more urgent.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted on Friday that engineers from his firms - SpaceX and The Boring Company - were heading to Thailand to see if they could assist the rescue.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their coach were found on Monday, nine days after they went missing following a football game.

The team has spent nearly two weeks trapped underground in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave.

The group was found to be skinny, but in good health, and have received high-protein drinks as they are treated by the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit.

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