Bangkok, July 7: While rescue work was still on to reach a football team of boys in their teens and their coach inside a complex cave system in northern Thailand, tragedy struck as one former Thai navy diver named Saman Kunan died during the mission.
Kunan died after losing consciousness while coming out of the Tham Luang cave early on Friday, July 6. He was delivering air tanks to the stranded team.
Twelve boys and their 25-year-old coach were located in the cave last Monday, June 2, after they went missing on June 23 when sudden downpour left them stranded underground.
The death of the diver raised alarm over the deteriorating oxygen levels inside the flooded cave, forcing the authorities to reassess the situation completely. The authorities were earlier planning to bring out the boys once the water level receded but now, with the oxygen level falling and danger of fresh rain flooding the cave looming, it's double trouble for the rescuers.
Thai Navy SEAL sources said the oxygen level inside the cave reduced by 15 per cent, CNN reported. It also cited a doctor as saying that such fall in oxygen poses a risk of hypoxia which is too dangerous for the boys stranded inside.
The number of rescue officials accompanying the team inside the cave was reduced to five from 10 to preserve oxygen, the CNN report added. The decision was taken after 38-year-old Kunan, a former Thai SEAL, died after running out of air while striving under water.
International rescue teams besides Thai divers have joined hands to evacuate the boys. Food, oxygen and medical aid have been reached to them but the lowering level of oxygen has left the authorities seriously worried.