Experienced Navy SEAL diver dies during Thai cave rescue operation

Experienced Navy SEAL diver dies during Thai cave rescue operation

Rescuers in Thailand were no closer on Thursday to deciding when and how to extract 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave complex, where they were found this week, pale and weak but otherwise in good health, after nine days lost underground.

Thai ex-Navy SEAL Saman Kunan died Friday morning after running out of oxygen on his way back from delivering oxygen tanks to the cave where the team is located, according to CNN.

Thai authorities and rescue teams from across the globe have flocked to Thailand after 13 people became trapped inside a flooded cave.

However, they faced another hardship on Thursday when volunteers accidentally pumped water back into the ground instead of info nearby rice streams, which resulted in a stream returning to the northern Tham Luang cavern complex.

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There was great concern over the dwindling air supply as the level of oxygen in the cave where the boys are trapped dropped to 15 per cent.

Rescuers have been working to pump water out of the cave.

The officials say the youngsters have not learned adequate diving skills in the short time since searchers reached the area where they are sheltering.

The boys will have to be taught how to use scuba diving gear and how to navigate a cave that has frustrated even the most expert divers.

The rescue effort suffered a disheartening setback on 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.

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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%.

Officials prefer to get the boys out as soon as possible because heavy rain is expected by Saturday.

Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and risky waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained. However, the big obstacle would be the imminent heavy rain forecast that may begin tomorrow.

The boys are now learning how to swim and scuba dive because some parts of the cave are too narrow for more than one person to pass.

"At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time. but now things have changed, we have a limited time", said Apakorn Yookongkaew, Thailand's Navy Seal commander.

After being discovered in a cave in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand on Monday evening, debate rages over the best way to rescue the trapped boys.

Asked at his midnight news conference about bringing the boys out underwater, the governor replied, "Not today because they can not dive at this time".

"Saman left us while working with his SEAL team brothers at a time where all frogmen put their arms around each other and move forward to complete the mission that is set".

The statement Friday said: "We are impressed with the courage and strength the young boys and their coach have shown despite the scary circumstances they find themselves in".

His death marks the first major setback in the mission to rescue the "Wild Boars" football team, who have been trapped underground in the cave for almost two weeks.

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