Rescuers have begun pumping muddy water from a Thai cave so divers can resume the search for 12 boys and their football coach who have been trapped by flooding in the 8km cave system since Saturday.
Heavy rain on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning forced the retreat of rescuers who had advanced 3km into the cave and found hand and footprints.
Thailand‘s Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda told reporters that the recent rain had filled some cavities to the ceiling, preventing SEAL diving teams from seeing where they were going, even with lights.
He said the teams could resume the search safely once they pumped out enough water to allow air pockets below the cave ceiling.
Meanwhile, local army troops have continued to comb the thick jungle surrounding the cave for alternative entry points after finding air holes that were too narrow to allow rescuers physical access.
Two Black Hawk helicopters were also on standby to scour for further entry points from above when skies clear.
Members of the Moo Pa football academy visited the site on Wednesday morning, hoping to provide information that aids the rescue effort.
They told officials their team regularly visited the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province for training and recreational purposes.
They joined family members who have held a vigil at the cave entry since the team aged between 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach went missing four days ago.
Despite warnings not to enter the cave during the June to October monsoon season the boys visited after a practice game, leaving bikes and shoes which remained at the entrance.
Tourists have been rescued after several days trapped in the cave before and Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Bunyalak has said officials still believe the boys could have found higher ground further within the massive cave.