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Fresh Footprints Bring Hope for Team Lost in Cave

'The kids are athletes, and they have skills'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2018 8:00 AM CDT
Emergency rescue teams continue the search for a young soccer team and their coach believed to be missing in a large cave in Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand.   (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)
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(Newser) – The search for a youth soccer team lost for three days in a cave in Thailand resumed Tuesday with a message of hope. "We are still optimistic they are all alive," Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said, adding, "even though they may not have anything to eat, they should have water to drink." It was a message fueled by the discovery of fresh handprints and footprints inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex, which the 25-year-old team coach and 12 boys aged 11 to 16 are believed to have entered Saturday through a 50-foot-long tunnel crossed by a stream. With heavy rains, that stream has now become a wall of water, partially flooding caves and passageways, some of which extend nearly 4 miles underground in Chiang Rai province, per the BBC.

"Our concern is about the rain. The water inside the cave keeps rising," deputy governor Passakorn Bunyalak tells the New York Times, though officials are pumping water out. Still, officials believe the team remains alive—though perhaps with depleted oxygen—inside the cave's main chamber. "The kids are athletes, and they have skills," says Bunyalak. "They will try to survive by continuing to move." Rescuers in scuba gear can be seen mingling with medical teams at the cave entrance, while outside, family members pray around makeshift shrines as they wait for news, and more water pumps. "When I saw his bike parked inside parked at the cave, my tears were just dropping. I was desperate to find my son," an impatient father tells CNN. "We need a miracle, I want him back." (Read more Thailand stories.)

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