Navy Seals race to rescue children's football team trapped in Thai cave

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The group entered the cave in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, on Saturday and haven't been seen since.

Most of the boys' parents are waiting in a makeshift camp near the Tham Luang Nang Non caves, and have not left the area since Saturday, when they learned that their children were missing.

A rescue team has been pumping air into the cave to increase the available oxygen, while the authorities have minimised use of machines near the entrance to ensure that carbon monoxide does not seep into the cave.

Overnight, electricians installed a power line 1 km (.6 mi) into the cave to support the divers with electric lights and fans Tuesday. A mother reported that her son did not return from football practice that day, setting off the search.

Rescuers led by elite navy divers were forced to suspend their search Monday (overnight NZT) due to flooding but were to resume today. They played drums and gongs and two relatives held fishing nets as a symbolic way to fish out lost spirits from the cave.

Navy Lt Naponwath Homsai said the divers will enter the water after they reach a chamber farther inside that was flooded nearly to its ceiling on Monday.

"We have drawing out water from the cave, and we're (currently) looking for more water pumps" and long cables with which to power the pumps, he said.

The sprawling cave complex extends several kilometres and has wide chambers and narrow passageways with rocky outcrops and changes in elevation.

They were apparently trapped when heavy rain flooded a stream at the cave entrance, but a local official said he believed they were still alive.

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Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda told reporters that navy SEAL divers leading the search are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to the ceilings.

Television showed footage of bikes and backpacks left at the cave entrance.

Later, local TV quoted the province's deputy governor, Pasakorn Boonyalak, as saying he was confident the 13 were still alive after the divers found foot and hand prints on dry ground inside the cave in an area not reached by the water.

Authorities sought help from the SEAL team after they could not go deep inside the cave.

Officials said tourists trapped in the cave in the past by floods have been rescued after the waters receded and it wasn't the first time some of the boys had been inside the cave.

They had reportedly seen fresh footprints inside the cave complex, raising hopes for the group's safety.

The cave can flood up to 5m (16ft) during Thailand's rainy season, which runs from June to October. He said his son would regularly come home as late as 9 p.m., sometimes joining his coach and teammates on adventures that included swimming in waterfalls and riding their bicycles into Myanmar.

By Monday evening, officials made the call to temporarily pull out. "I am waiting for you here", one woman cried. Another kneeled down near the bicycles and prayed, asking "Where is my child?" "That's what I'm hoping", said Noppadol Kantawong, the father of one of the missing boys.

Further attempts later on Monday also failed to locate the boys, though rescue teams have found "traces" of them inside the cave, police in Mae Sai district said.

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