A drone and UK cavers have spotted a second cave entrance and possible safe spot.
Rescue teams were pinning their hopes on a new route north of the entrance of Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district believed to be a safe haven for 12 boys and their football coach who went missing on Saturday.
The teams are still hopeful they will find the team members alive.
Deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta led 132 police and rescue workers to survey Doi Pha Mee, which is north of the main entrance of the cave to search for possible points of access to the cave.
The change in the search route followed the advice of three British cave divers, who arrived on Wednesday evening to help in the operation.
Currently, the main rescue and search operations are under way to the west of the cave's entrance, with the location inside the cave dubbed "Monk's Series" as the destination.
It was believed the missing people might have opted to venture north of the cave's entrance rather than head to the location in the West dubbed as "Pattaya Beach".
To the north, they will reach an area of dry ground in a chamber which is about one kilometre away from the cave's entrance, compared to Pattaya Beach, which is about seven kilometres away.
Pol Gen Wirachai said residents told him there is a chamber lying in the north of the cave. It is as high as 60 metres and 20 metres wide. This location has become a new focal point of attention because a cave chamber may have a ceiling crevice.
The 132 policemen and rescue workers were divided into four search teams to survey the area separately. One team used GPS to explore locations on the mountain terrain. Another team was led by locals who said they had seen the ceiling crevice. Another team climbed up and surveyed a mossy rock cliff which means there was dampness coming from in the lee of the hill.
Pol Gen Wirachai added three new ceiling crevices had been found during the survey. Two of them were clogged. A drone will be used to explore the third one.
On social media, some netizens also believed that the 12 boys and their coach might be heading north of the cave's entrance to escape rising waters which blocked the entrance.
That would lead them to Doi Pha Mee which provides an area of dry ground for them. The location is near a source of a stream so water levels are not high.
"However, if the boys and their coach were heading north to find a way out, they would face an increasingly steep slope and they will become even more exhausted,'' a Facebook user said, adding that if they continued on in this direction, they would reach a small cave called "Monk's Series''.
"By now, the boys must be very tired and water may be the only form of sustenance. They may be experiencing wet and cold conditions inside the cave.''
Suttisak Soralump, a geotechnical engineer from Kasetsart University, said percussion drilling equipment will be used to bore holes of 10-12 centimetres wide through the hillside of Tham Luang cave so glowsticks and recording devices will be put in to explore the cave inside. It will take one day to drill a stretch of 100 metres to reach inside.
PTT Exploration and Production Plc (PTTEP) was using two drones to survey the exterior structure of the cave and the information will be used to determine where to drill. The drones with 30x optical zooms, fitted with heat sensor equipment can also take three-dimensional pictures.
Persistent rain overnight raised water levels inside Tham Luang cave and rescuers were forced to pause their search for 12 boys and their football coach. The five-hour storm from Wednesday into the early hours Thursday pushed water levels in the cave higher.
Floodwaters inside Tham Luang cave, exacerbated by continued rain, are blocking attempts to reach the teen footballers and their coach.
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bore : to make a deep hole in something hard -
cave : a large hole in the side of a hill or under the ground - ถ้ำ
ceiling : the surface that is above you in a room -
chamber : a space in something (in a body, in a plant, a machine, etc, which is separated from the rest - ช่อง
cliff : a steep side of an area of high land - หน้าผา
crevice (noun): a narrow crack in a rock or wall - รอยแตก
dubbed : called; given a name - ถูกเรียก ตั้งฉายา
exacerbate : to make something worse - ทำให้แย่ลง
exhausted : extremely tired - เหน็ดเหนื่อย
focal point : the most important, interesting, or attractive part of something, that you concentrate on or pay particular attention to - จุดโฟกัส, จุดสนใจ
opt : to make a choice or a decision from a range of possibilities - เลือก
rescue : saving a person or animal from a dangerous or unpleasant situation - การช่วยชีวิต
steep slope : the side of a hill or mountain that rises quickly and is hard to climb - ทางลาดชัน
stream : a small narrow river - ลำธาร, ธารน้ำ, สายน้ำ
structure : the way in which the parts of something are connected together, arranged or organised - โครงสร้าง
venture : to go somewhere, especially somewhere that is unpleasant, dangerous or exciting - เสี่ยงภัย ผจญภัย