Heavy rain hampers cave rescue
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Heavy rain hampers cave rescue

Rescuers carry hose to the Tham Luang cave to pump out water at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai on Wednesday morning, as rescue  efforts continue to save the missing young footballers and their coach. (Photo AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)
Rescuers carry hose to the Tham Luang cave to pump out water at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai on Wednesday morning, as rescue efforts continue to save the missing young footballers and their coach. (Photo AFP/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

MAE SAI, Chiang Rai: Rescuers battled heavy rain on Wednesday as they struggled to drain the flooded cave where 12 children and their football coach have been trapped since Saturday, as desperate relatives clung to hope the boys will be rescued soon.

The young football team, aged between 11 an 16, have been trapped in Tham Luang cave since Saturday night after monsoon rains blocked the main entrance.

Hundreds of rescuers worked overnight to install high-pressure water pumps to reduce flooding in the cave, but it was a losing battle as rains continued to pound the area in northern Chiang Rai province near the Laos and Myanmar borders.

"Rising water levels is major obstacle in the rescue operation, and it rained hard last night," Khanchit Chomphudaeng, the provincial secretary in charge of the rescue operation, told AFP.

Rescuers worked through the night to try to reach the young young football team and their coach, who have been trapped inside Tham Luang cave since Saturday

He said 1,000 people had been mobilised for the search, including air and ground teams and divers. The army also dispatched special operation troops to aid the rescue.

Thai Navy Seal said on their Facebook page that water levels rose 15 centimetres overnight and that a third chamber of the complex cave network, believed to be several kilometres long, was now flooded.

Soldiers carried large hoses into the cave Wednesday to continue draining rising flood waters, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Distraught relatives have been camped out for days praying for the team's safe return.

"I hope that today with the help from all teams he will be saved. I'm certain in my heart," Pean Kamlue, the mother of a 16-year-old boy in the cave, said.

Officials said late Tuesday they spotted a second opening into the cave and would try to lower divers and supplies into the hole as helicopters were dispatched to survey the area.

Rain was forecast to continue throughout the day.

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(Video YouTube/Rappler)

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