The group of almost 50 navy and authorities personnel is trying to find entrances within the mountain, pure chimneys that could possibly be used to entry 12 boys and their coach, who’ve been trapped by flood waters contained in the cave for nearly two weeks.
The Thai troopers and Nationwide Park Authority employees drive 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the cave’s major entrance in Mae Sai to Doi Pha Nee, a mountain northwest of the principle entrance of the Tham Luang cave system, close to Thailand’s border with Myanmar.
There, they seek for holes price exploring by a workforce of professional rock climbers who’ve flown in from south Thailand to assist. Different Thai navy officers, forestry guides, village elders and different native consultants are readily available to supply steering on navigation and terrain.
CNN accompanied the groups Thursday as they plowed by means of steep muddy lanes to succeed in space of lush grassland. There, they finalized the plan for the day over balls of sticky rice and pork and the favored Thai vitality drink M-150.
Armed with GPS coordinates, workforce leaders pinpointed on a map the place they thought a key chimney may be. The group then set off, trekking alongside filth paths by means of farmland and scrambling up a hillside by means of jungle.
The groups cut up into smaller teams to survey the world for potential cave entrances. Earlier than lengthy, a whistle blew to summon the remainder of the workforce. One of many trekkers had discovered a cave entrance in a rocky a part of the hillside. The climbers got here to test it out, nevertheless it was shortly dismissed.
Shifting on to increased floor, one other opening was quickly found. This time it appeared extra promising and the group geared as much as examine it correctly.
Superfit and apparently fearless, the climbers squeezed themselves into the darkish crevice and regularly disappeared one after the other into the cave. For them, this isn’t only a passion: they earn their dwelling as a few of Thailand’s notorious hen’s nest collectors.
This controversial follow entails gathering the nests of uncommon birds from cliff faces and caves to offer the elements for one of many world’s most costly dishes: hen’s nest soup, a delicacy in China.
The workforce of six of the climbers managed to descend 275 meters (900 ft) of rope. Their GPS calculations prompt that the boys had been solely one other 275 meters away. However disenchanted voices reached the floor.
“It is a lifeless finish,” one of many group stated
The workforce trekked on to 790 meters (2,600 ft) above sea stage seeking entrances increased up the mountain.
Mountaineering uphill in temperatures in extra of 30 levels Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) with humidity at over 90% whereas carrying heavy gear and ropes made for a grueling, sweat-soaked hunt.
Within the midst of a farmed space of large banana timber and low crops, the group got here throughout one other search workforce of troopers and cavers.
“We got here with the Thai navy workforce to search for holes and caves and to see in the event that they go deep sufficient,” stated Mario Wild, a 38-year-old Austrian caving teacher from Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures. “To this point, no success.”
His colleague, 31-year previous Add Kongsingh, stated different individuals within the space had been attempting to assist in comparable methods.
“We have now some expertise with caving. We have now been looking round these mountains, looking for a possible gap that we predict can join,” stated Kongsingh.
Their workforce has been out day-after-day this week. However Kongsingh is nervous that point is operating out quick for the boys trapped deep within the mountain, the place the danger of rising water poses a doubtlessly deadly risk.
“I believe rain is coming within the subsequent couple of days,” he stated.
CNN’s Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.