The group consists of Dr Pak Loharnshoon, who had graduated from the navy Seals training course, a nurse from the Royal Thai Navy's underwater and hyperbaric medi-cine unit, and seven members of the Thai navy Seals.
It would be unsafe to rescue the 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from the Thailand cave they're trapped in, a Thai Navy SEAL told CNN, because they're too weak to survive the rescue. The teammates, who were trapped inside when heavy rains flooded the cave, were found by rescue divers Monday night during a desperate search that drew assistance from experts around the globe.
Experienced divers are wary of taking out the boys through the dark and risky waters still in the cave, especially since they are untrained.
In the first video shot by the rescuers in flickering torchlight 4 km (2.5 miles) from the mouth of the cave in Thailand's northernmost province showed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above an expanse of water.
A video shared by the Thai Navy SEALs leading the rescue mission shows them introducing themselves and stating their age.
Seeing the boys has boosted the mood of relatives, and officials are working to install an internet cable to the cave so that parents can talk to their children. "They were probably trying to avoid the incoming water and areas where the water was rising, so they kept going further and further and back into the cave", said Malinowski.
SEALs commander Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yukongkaew said the return trip from cave entrance to the boys and back took 11 hours because the T-junction remained submerged, and meanwhile a communications line had yet to be installed the full distance.
Cave rescue experts have said it could be safest to simply supply the boys where they are, and wait for the flooding to subside.
Rescue teams initially didn't plan to rush the boys and their coach out, but heavy rains forecasted for later this week are threatening to push forward those plans.
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Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said the group did not have to be brought out of the cave at the same time.
"Caves are these complicated three-dimensional environments, so you don't necessarily know from the surface where you can drill a hole to get to a passage", Frappier said.
"We can't send them messages yet", said Ratdao Chantrapul, 37, the mother of 14-year-old Prajak Sutham.
Other teams are still scouring the mountainside in the hope of finding another way into - and out of - the cave.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), rescuers were working on draining water out of the cave Thursday since diving is now the only way for them to escape. "That's up to the team inside to decide", Kobchai told reporters on Thursday.
The rescue teams are having to work quickly being at the mercy of the flood season.
There is no sign that the efforts have lowered water levels to a point that would allow an extraction on foot. The idea is to get some headroom so the boys would not be reliant on scuba apparatus for a long stretch and could keep their heads above water.
The region of Chiang Rai where the boys are trapped has for the past few days experienced a dry spell, and rescuers have taken advantage of this to pump water out of the cave complex. Luckily, the rescuers brought the trapped teenagers food enough to last for at least four months.
Torsten Lechler, a diving technical adviser from Germany who is assisting the rescue team at Mae Sai, said one option would be to teach the boys very basic skills, such as getting used to wearing diving equipment and breathing through masks.
"There's air pockets along the way", said Gary Mitchell, the group's assistant vice chairman. There's currents to battle against in places as well.