Thailand cave rescue: Boys tell parents ‘don’t worry’ in letters

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Group of teenage boys with coach Image copyright Facebook/ekatol
Image caption A Facebook photo shows the coach with some of the missing children

The Thai boys trapped in a cave for two weeks have written letters to their parents, saying “don’t worry… we are all strong”.

The handwritten notes include requests for food, including fried chicken.

“Teacher, don’t give us lots of homework!” read one. The team’s coach also offered his “apologies” to the parents in a separate letter.

The 12 boys and their coach were exploring the cave when they became trapped by flood waters on 23 June.

In his letter, the 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong reassured parents, saying: “Dear all kids’ parents, now all of them are fine, the rescue team is treating us well.

“And I promise I will take care of the kids as best as I can. Thank you for everyone’s that come to help.

“I also sincerely apologise to the kids’ parents.”

The group sent their notes after receiving letters from their families, in their first communication since attempts to establish a phone line inside the cave failed earlier this week.

What is the situation inside the cave?

The group were found inside the cave by British rescue divers on Monday, 10 days after they went missing. They were perched on a rock shelf in a small chamber about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave mouth.

Teams of Thai and international 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%. The usual level is 21%.

The authorities in Thailand say an air line into the cave has now been successfully installed.

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Media captionNick Beake has been inside a cave complex in Chiang Rai

The danger of their situation became clear when a former Thai navy diver died after delivering air tanks to the group on Friday.

Above ground, a huge military and civilian rescue operation is racing against the clock to bring the boys to safety. Heavy monsoon rains are expected on Sunday, threatening further flooding.

Officials had initially considered leaving the boys in the chamber to wait out the rainy season, which could have seen them trapped there for up to four months.

However, with the diminishing oxygen levels, other rescue plans look more likely.

Speaking on Friday, the governor of the Chiang Rai region, where the cave is situated, said the boys had enough strength to walk but could not swim to safety.

Narongsak Osotthanakorn said the health of most of the boys had “improved to normal”, and that divers were continuing to teach them diving and breathing techniques.

Meanwhile, rescuers outside the cave have dug more than 100 holes in an attempt to reach the cave by a direct route. There were 18 promising ones, the deepest at 400m, but Mr Narongsak said he was not sure if it would reach the boys, who are believed to be about 600m below the surface.

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