Soccer team trapped in Thai cave send handwritten letters to family, coach apologizes to parents

Former Thai Navy Diver Dies from Lack of Oxygen While Working to Rescue Boys Trapped in Cave

An operation is underway to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach who are trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

Update 11:20 a.m. EDT July 7: The Associated Press reported that the team coach sent out letters to the boys' parents apologizing to them. The boys said in the letters that they miss their families, don't want them to worry and are doing well. The letters were sent out through divers. CNN reported the Thai navy SEALs posted images of the handwritten notes from the boys.

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The Associated Press reported earlier Saturday that Thai rescuers said they will not immediately attempt to evacuate the soccer team because they do not have the proper diving skills.

Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is in charge of the operation, said if heavy rains continue and cause a rise in flooded areas around the cave, divers would attempt to evacuate the team immediately. Heavy rain in the past set back efforts to pump water out of the cave.

Update 3:30 p.m. EDT July 6: It is now a race against time after the death of Sgt. Saman Kunan. The former navy diver died after a drop of oxygen levels. Now officials' original time table of allowing the team to remain underground may not be safe because the oxygen levels have fallen to potentially dangerous levels, CNN reported.

Related: Photos: Rescuers work to free soccer team, coach trapped in Thai cave

A Navy official said that the level has dropped 15 percent and that could a hypoxia. Rear Adm. Arpakorn Yookongkaew did not say how long those trapped could survive with current levels, CNN reported.

Teams are trying to get more oxygen piped into the cavern.

Navy crews are also looking for wetsuits to outfit three boys who are too small for ones currently available at the site, CNN reported.

Update 5:52 a.m. EDT July 6: The diver was identified as former Sgt. Saman Kunan, an ex-SEAL, CNN reported. Kunan died at 2 a.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT Thursday) because of a lack of air as he tried to return to a command center, according to Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Boonyalak.

Update 10:36 p.m. EDT July 5: Thai authorities say a navy diver working to rescue boys trapped in cave has died from lack of oxygen.

SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew told a news conference Friday morning that the rescuer was working in a volunteer capacity and died during an overnight mission in which he was placing oxygen canisters. He said while underwater, the rescuer passed out and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

“Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission,” Arpakorn said.

Thai authorities are racing to pump out water from a flooded cave where they have been trapped since June 23.

Update 8:24 p.m. EDT July 2: Video released by a Royal Thai Navy's special operations force showed 12 boys alive huddled in a partially flooded cave in northern Thailand Tuesday.

In the 5-minute navy video, the boys are quiet as they sit on their haunches, legs bent in front of them. They are clad in the uniforms they apparently were wearing on the morning they disappeared in the cave.

The boys were rescued late Monday after spending more than a week in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai on June 23.

Family members of the missing hugged each other as they cheered the news.

Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said they were in the process of being rescued, but he cautioned that they were not out of danger yet, according to The Associated Press.

“We found them safe. But the operation isn’t over,” he said in comments broadcast nationwide, referring to the complicated process of extricating them.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.