Divers take part in the rescue mission (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Rescuers on July 6 have accelerated the rescue operation for the 12 stranded young footballers and their coach as heavy downpours are expected to hit in a matter of days, which will cause the water levels inside the cave to rise.

Earlier, experts from the Chulalongkorn University said the Tham Luang cave is a part of a limestone mountain ecosystem and when it is raining on the mountain, the water will be absorbed into the subterranean aquifer system through infiltration and later spring out as streams and rivers. The water lever is highly likely to rise where the boys are located, as well as the path leading to them.

Rescuers are racing against time to remove water in the third chamber of the cave. There is little time left as new floods could force the team to stay trapped inside the cave for months.

Two streams to the north and south of Doi Nang Non Mountain, Huai Nam Dan and Haui Makaeng, were successfully diverted away from the cave through the cooperation of local people and related agencies.

According to rescue operation organisers, the water in the cave has been reduced by 40 percent since the victims were found alive on July 2.

Rescuers are trying to remove water inside the cave’s third chamber so that the water level is only at waist-height for the boys, enabling them to exit using only life jackets and not requiring them to undergo potentially risky dives to escape.

This appears to be a more viable plan than the previously laid out exit strategy whereby the boys, with no previous experience, would be taught to dive for several hours in dangerous water currents.

Thai authorities on July 6 also announced that a former Thai navy diver died during a mission to try free the football team trapped in Tham Luang cave. The 38-year-old man dived in the cave at 8:30pm on the evening of July 5, however lost consciousness due to lack of air. This is the first death of the rescue mission that started on June 23, for the stranded football team. -VNA