Thai soldiers gather at a command center near the Tham Luang cave area as the rescue operation continues for the 12 boys and their football team coach trapped in the cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, on July 6, 2018.
The desperate search and rescue operation has seen experts from around the world join in, with teams from Britain, the U.S., Australia, China and elsewhere all participating.
The parent of "Pong" also thanked the coach for taking care of the youths. (Picture: AFP) The rescue effort suffered a disheartening setback on Friday with the death of a former Thai navy Seal diving in the flooded passageways to deliver supplies, as authorities raced against worsening weather and lessening oxygen.
Thai people have a split opinion about Ekkapol's role in the football team's predicament.
Many are lauding him after reports he gave his share of food to the kids before they were located and helped them get through nine days in the darkness.
Another named Tun said: "Mum and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine", before adding that he wanted to go for fried chicken when he was out of the cave. They are all strong.
Others are criticizing him for agreeing to take the boys into the cave during the monsoon season. His family are shopkeepers.
Another wrote: "Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings". You don't need to be anxious about me. "Love you much. Kiss". Mum loves you and misses you a lot.
"Father and mother, please don't worry about me".
Peerapat "Night" Sompiangjai, 16: "I love Dad, Mum and brother". I love both of you.
An attempt to rescue at least some of the Thai boys trapped in a sprawling cave complex is under way, officials confirm, 15 days after the boys and their coach became trapped. I'm very happy here. "I'm nearly crying", Night's mother Supaluk Sompiengjai told AFP.
The suggestion that the trapped team might have to wait months inside until a safe way out in available - as was the case in 2010 with Chilean miners trapped underground - has been met with little enthusiasm.
CNN's Matt Rivers said the forecast for monsoonal rains meant there might be no alternative but to try and get the boys out now.
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One of his enterprises is Boring Co., which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems and has advanced ground-penetrating radar. Admiral Arpakorn Yuukongkaew said: "We won't let his life be in vain". "We are still in a war against water and time", he said.
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Thai officials had been suggesting in public statements that a quick underwater evacuation of the boys and their soccer coach was needed because of the possibility that access to the cave could soon close again due to seasonal monsoon rains expected this weekend.
"When we have no choice, we will have to make a decision", he said.
Oxygen levels are decreasing because of the amount of workers inside the cave and workers were trying to run an oxygen line into the chambers in addition to the oxygen canisters used by divers, Chiang Rai province Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn had said late Thursday.
The initial jubilation around the boys' discovery by a team of British divers on Monday has faded as the reality of the challenge of their extraction has set in.
But authorities said it remained unclear how long the boys would have to remain inside.
But his comments 12 hours later suggest the thinking has changed, with water levels inside the cave now managed to their lowest point by constant drainage.
More than 100 exploratory holes have been bored - some shallow, but the longest 400 meters deep - into the mountainside, in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into a risky dive through submerged tunnels.
"At first, we thought the children could stay for a long time. but now things have changed, we have a limited time", said Apakorn Yookongkaew, Thailand's Navy Seal commander.
Authorities now say that nearly the entire first 1,500 metre stretch from the cave mouth to the third chamber - where the Thai navy SEALS have set up a command post - is now walkable and that they have the water levels under control.
Some areas in the cave complex are so narrow, the boys, who do not have diving experience, would have to swim through the muddy waters unaccompanied.
It takes rescuers, who are seasoned cave-diving experts, about six hours to reach the ledge where the boys are holding out.
A massive rescue operation is under way, with high-powered pumps working round-the-clock to reduce the water level inside the cave.