CHIANG RAI- Rescuers in Thailand are trying to find alternative ways to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped inside a cave complex for 13 days, as teams brace for heavy rain which could further delay the operation.

“We are trying to find alternative techniques to reach the 13,” Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters late on Thursday.

“We have considered many alternatives to find the most feasible ones,” he added.

Rescue alternatives include teaching the boys to dive and then swim out, a highly risky venture, remaining in the cave for months until the wet season ends and flood waters recede or drilling a shaft into the cave from the forest above.

On Monday, after nine days underground, hungry but in good spirits, the boys, of age between 11 and 16, with their assistant coach, found inside the Tham Luang cave in northern Chiang Rai province, they went missing after they set out to explore the cave on June 23.

Narongsak said, “Regarding the plan for the 13 to swim or dive, there is only one critical point which it is risky: It is where every boy has to dive alone. The point is very narrow … It is very deep water. The distance is pretty long. Rescuers were preparing a five km (three miles) “oxygen pipeline” as part of preparations for the group’s extraction but added that the boys would not be coming out soon”. He added, “You see we are increasing the number of people going inside the cave. So we have to fill it up with oxygen”.

Rescuers team, have planned for how to remove the group, but have been slowed down by logistical issues including high water levels inside the cave and narrow, flooded passages which would require the boys to dive alone.

The Thai navy is now teaching the boys the basics of diving, with a view to guiding them out through flood waters. Heavy monsoon rains are forecast for next week in most of the north, according to Thailand’s meteorological department.

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