Thailand continues search for teenagers trapped in flooded cave

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"It's showering. The water level inside the cave is going up", the Royal Thai Navy SEAL posted on its Facebook page.

"Even though they may not have anything to eat, they should have water to drink". Despite two days and numerous setbacks, Thai officials believe they are still alive.

"I want to confirm to the media that the SEAL team will be working non-stop because it's already dark here too", he said. "So night and day doesn't make a big difference". My advice was to leave them there until the waters receded because that is the safest option for the non diver: treat them as being trapped and bring food and what they need to them.

Search and rescue teams in Thailand were looking on Monday for 13 members of an under-16 soccer team trapped in a flooded cave complex deep inside a mountain.

Authorities are using helicopters to explore the possibility there may be holes in the ceiling of the cave.

One relative fainted while others waited under a makeshift tent near a shrine with dolls, spiritual offerings and messages for the young boys.

Rain that fell overnight increased the difficulty of exploring inside the cave.

Image caption The boys' bicycles were left outside the cave - they were seen as evidence by authorities that they had entered with their coach on Saturday afternoon.

Some performed a traditional ritual Tuesday morning to call for those who are missing. "We believe the students have gone further in", SEAL team member Naponwath Homsai said. "Today we will try to find passages under the water that hopefully will lead to other chambers". But the search had to be suspended again because of high water.

The cave complex extends several kilometers (miles) and has wide chambers and narrow passageways with rocky outcrops and changes in elevation.

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"I haven't slept and I hope that all of them can come out, all safe and sound", she said. By Monday evening (local time), officials made a decision to pull out temporarily.

Mr Narongsak said rescue operations would continue overnight and teams were on standby with supplies.

Kamonchai Kotcha, director of the Office of Conserved Area in Chiang Rai, told Thai PBS that a sign at the cave's entrance warns visitors not to enter without permission from park officials.

"We are arranging more water pumps and electricity cable to drain water".

At a prayer session on Monday evening, some of the relatives walked into the cave's entrance. Another kneeled down near the bicycles and prayed, asking "Where is my child?"

"My child, I'm here to get you now", one crying parent said, according to AFP.

"My son is a strong boy. I still have hope".

According to rescue officials, heavy rain this week has caused parts of the cave to fill with as much as 5m (16 ft.) of water.

At about 8:30pm yesterday, Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Bunyalak told reporters at a press conference - his first since the kids were reported missing on Saturday afternoon - that he remained confident they are are still alive given the lack of evidence otherwise.

Further attempts also failed to locate the boys, though rescue teams have found "traces" of them inside the cave, police in Mae Sai district said.

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