Found alive on 10th day, Thai boys' cave ordeal not over as rain threatens

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CHIANG RAI, Thailand (Reuters) - Rescuers raced to pump water from a cave in northern Thailand on Tuesday as forecasted heavy rain threatened to complicate efforts to free a young soccer team found trapped for 10 days, an ordeal officials warned they may have to bear longer.
Divers struggled through narrow passages and murky waters to find the 12 boys and their coach late on Monday night on an elevated rock about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the mouth of the cave.
News of the boys’ survival sparked jubilation in a nation that has been gripped by the harrowing drama.
A video shot by rescuers in flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above an expanse of water.
“How many of you are there - 13? Brilliant,” a member of the multinational rescue team, speaking in English, tells the boys. “You have been here 10 days. You are very strong.”
“Thank you,” one of the boys says.
One boy asks when they will get out, to which the rescuer answers: “Not today. You have to dive.”
The boys were found in weak condition, but with only minor injuries.
Interior minister Anupong Paochinda said rescuers needed to double down to reduce water levels in the cave.
Rain continued to fall in Chiang Rai on Tuesday and was forecast to intensify from Wednesday.
“Quickly pump out water first to get the kids out as soon as possible,” Anupong told reporters. “If it rains too much, water levels will rise and make getting them out harder.”
Two British divers, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, were first to reach the boys, having had strong experience in cave rescues, according to Bill Whitehouse of the British Cave Rescue Council.
They found the group along with a team of Thai navy SEAL divers.
Aged between 11 and 16, the boys went missing with the 25-year-old after soccer practice on June 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near Thailand’s northern border with Myanmar.
Rescuers had been focusing on an elevated mound, which cavers have named “Pattaya Beach”, in the cave complex’s third chamber, knowing that it could have provided the boys with a refuge when rains flooded the cave.
But Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said the divers reached Pattaya Beach but found it flooded, so they went 400 meters further and discovered the team.

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