Thai cave rescue: No backdoor entrances found

The AM Show 06/07/2018

It's looking increasingly likely the boys trapped deep in a cave in Thailand will have to leave the way they came in.

Rescuers have failed to find another way into the Tham Luang cave, where the teenage football side and their coach have been stuck since June 23.

Hopes were raised when some of the boys said they could hear chickens and birds, suggesting there might be an alternative entrance, a local told CNN.

"Were those hallucinations or did they really hear it?" asked Ben Reymenants, a Belgian man who runs a diving shop and is one of more than 1000 people helping with the rescue effort. "Because that would mean there is livestock nearby or at least a forest which would make an alternative entrance possible."

But the hunt for a backdoor entrance hasn't been successful.

"We've had dozens of rescuers go through the jungle here trying to find any holes, any chimneys that might not have been known about to see if perhaps there could be a natural way, a natural opening to lift the boys out - but so far, nothing has been found," CNN reporter Matt Rivers told The AM Show on Friday morning.

"I think rescuers are increasingly coming to the understanding the boys are going to have to come out the way they came in."

The problem with that is it's flooded. Heavy rains in June are what trapped the group, and with the monsoon season expected to kick in this weekend, there's a real chance they may have to stay in the cave until the weather clears up in four months' time.

"Right now it's not raining, but this is July in Thailand - it rains all the time," said Mr Rivers. "Rain is coming on Saturday, it could get heavier on Sunday. That would mean the water levels would rise again in the cave. You're really looking at this window of opportunity here that is fast shrinking."

Water is being pumped out of the cave, but there's so much of it it's unlikely the boys will be able to walk out. The problem is many of the group can't swim, and the 4km they'd have to travel would challenge even the most experienced divers.

The water level is only going down about 1cm an hour, said Mr Rivers.

"This is a big cave, a ton of caverns - so yes, water is still being pumped out, but perhaps not as fast as we would like."

Narongsak Osottanakorn, Governor of the Chiang Rai region, said they are draining the cave as fast as they can.

"But water continues to flow in, no matter how many holes have been blocked - water still continues to pour in."

Well-meaning volunteers who failed to check in with the official rescue effort accidentally pumped a whole lot of water back into the cave too, which didn't help.

A 5km-long hose carrying oxygen to the team has been installed.

Mr Osottanakorn said despite the urgency the boys are in "good health and they are smiling and playing around".

He confirmed drilling attempts from above had been abandoned, but are still looking for another way in.

"We asked the Governor what the latest is, and he said the preference is still - believe it or not - to try and have these 12 boys and their coach walk out of this cave," said Mr Miller.

"To do that, the water level inside needs to come down enough. They continue to pump water out, but the question is can it come out fast enough? And that's a question we don't have an answer to as of yet."

Watch the full interview above.

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