Israeli technology providing vital communications link to cave-trapped Thai boys

The father of a missing footballer thanks soldiers near Tham Luang cave following news all members of the children's football team and their coach were alive. —AFP

As a result, water levels have been reduced by about 40% in some areas.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave to celebrate a birthday.

The teammates were found on Monday night by caving experts, including British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen.

If rescuers decide on the diving option, one way to mitigate panic among the boys would be to have one of them - the most assured - go first. "We have to be 100 percent confident that there is no risk to the boys before we evacuate", provincial governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said.

Japanese engineers have helped rig up a pumping system that is reducing water levels by one centimetre every hour.

However, rescue operations commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn admitted Thursday the rescue teams do not have time on their side and they are concerned about weather conditions.

Nobody seems to know as yet how many days it might take until the 13 adolescent males trapped inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand can be brought out safely, according to a senior government official on Wednesday. But they say the experience has likely been hard mentally. "We can not calculate how much the water flows out of the cave because there is always water flowing into the cave".

The Tham Luang cave complex is regularly flooded during the rainy season until September or October, raising fears that a delay could leave the boys trapped in the cave for months.

The boys have drawn worldwide attention, and the USA and more than half-dozen other nations are aiding the rescue.

As of late Tuesday, some 120 million litres of water had been pumped out of the cave.

But rescuers are also planning for other eventualities.

Another is to find an alternative way into the cave through a natural shaft near the boys' location that can be drilled from above.

"We thought that we might have the expertise to help since we have climbed to collect bird's nests for generations".

Thai Navy Seal commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said there's no rush to bring them out as they are safe where they are, adding it would be extremely unsafe to have them dive through the dark, muddy water.

Seated next to rescued divers and illuminated by torches, each boy gives a traditional Thai greeting to the camera and says his name.

Diving experts have cautioned against the move saying the boys who can not swim would be moving several kilometres under the water with zero visibility.

New images and video taken from inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave show crews with flashlights and equipment, struggling to wade through the floodwater's powerful currents as they prepare for a potential operation to rescue the group in the coming days.

Rescue teams are working in extremely hard conditions.

But the work has continued at an unrelenting pace.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers are helping to keep the site in order, with road engineers laying gravel to try and secure the mud, workers for the Thai royal kitchen providing hot food for everyone, and volunteers handing out water bottles and ice lollies to those on site.

He said on Wednesday: 'Anyone who is ready first will be brought out.

How are the boys coping?

The video lasting about a minute was recorded sometime Tuesday and was posted on the navy SEAL Facebook page Wednesday morning. They remain weak after spending days in the darkness, with little, if any food.

The boys and their coach are now marooned on a small, muddy ledge deep inside the cave.

One possible extraction method being explored is diving the youth team to safety - though it is perhaps one of the least preferable strategies.

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