New and claustrophobic images from a flooded cave in Thailand where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped for nearly two weeks show the perils crews face while trying desperately to rescue the team.
Divers wearing helmets and oxygen tanks can be seen navigating the 6-mile-long cave complex with water that reaches up to their chins. Other pictures released by the Thai navy show rescue crews working with a series of pipes through the winding cave in an effort to pump water out.
"Seals are pulling water out of the cave as fast as possible for the safety of the Wild Boar team on the day they can be taken out of the cave," the Thai Navy SEALs posted on their Facebook page.
Efforts to drain the cave are hampered by Thailand's rainy monsoon season. Officials have said they are still exploring a series of options on how to bring the soccer team out, including teaching them to dive, drilling a hole to extract them, or waiting for the waters to recede enough to ease the rescue.
It could take months before the team can be rescued, officials have said, and the coach and players have been equipped in the meantime with at least four months' worth of food.
According to the Associated Press, the deputy director of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said officials are in the process of installing a fiber optic internet line in the cave so the boys can talk to their parents.
Rescue crews have also maintained contact with the young team. In one video released by the Thai Navy on Wednesday, the boys can be seen huddled together and wrapped in foil blankets.
"Let's say something to your fans," one of the divers tells the team members in the video, the Bangkok Post reported.
Some of the team members then seem to introduce themselves to the camera, smiling at times and holding their hands together in a greeting.
"I'm in good health," several of the boys say to the camera, according to the Bangkok Post.
"After eating, energy is replenished," the Thai navy posted on its Facebook page accompanying the videos.
Another video shows a rescuer treating the feet of several of the boys in the darkened cave.
The members of the team, called the "Wild Boars," were found Monday, after 10 days of search efforts since they went missing in Chiang Rai.
The boys, between 11 and 16 years old, and their 25-year-old coach were finally found about 1.2 miles inside the Tham Luang Nang Non caves in northern Thailand.
The governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said Tuesday the boys appeared to be thin but in stable condition, later adding that the boys and the coach may not all be extracted at the same time, depending on their health.
"All 13 may not come out at the same time. If the condition is right and if that person is ready 100 percent, he can come out," Osottanakorn said according to the AP.
"Although water levels have dropped, the diving conditions remain difficult and any attempt to dive the boys and their coach out will not be taken lightly because there are significant technical challenges and risks to consider," the British Cave Rescue Council, which is helping in rescue efforts, said in a statement. "They are also located in a relatively small space and this would make any potential drilling attempt as a means of rescue very difficult."
Equipment to help pinpoint the team's underground location from the surface is being shipped from the United Kingdom to Thailand in case that option is taken, the organization said.