4 days in: Thais send prayers for successful rescue as rain hampers search for missing teen soccer players

As a search and rescue effort to save a missing soccer team stretches deep into its fourth day, overwhelming support and encouragement have poured in from Thai netizens and public personalities alike, even as the elements have compounded the mission’s difficulty.

Rear Admiral Apakorn Yukonggaeow today ordered additional SEAL members to the scene so that the team could be divided into more groups and work around the clock until the 12 teen athletes and their coach are found.

Hope briefly rose this afternoon as three new potential entrances to Luang Khun Nam Nang Non Cave were discovered, though two seemingly promising crevasses — one on the mountain above the cave and another on Pattaya Beach — ultimately proved dead ends.

Official examining crevasse but proved to be too shallow
Authorities at the crevasse entrance. Photo: Facebook/ Cathay Mee

A rescue team from the UK was expected to arrive in northern Chiang Rai province and join the Navy SEALS at 6:20pm today to continue a search made more difficult by steady rains in the area near the Laos and Myanmar borders.

Hundreds of rescue workers worked overnight to install high-pressure water pumps to reduce flooding in the cave, but it was a losing battle.

“Today’s work is much harder, we are trying hard to drain water by pumping out but the water level is still rising,” provincial governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding “The water inside the cave is very murky, and there’s not much oxygen.”

Forecasters said light rains would continue to fall Wednesday, though downpours were not expected to be as heavy as they were overnight.

Meanwhile, a widely circulating video of a mother at the cave entrance desperately pleading for her missing son to “please come home,” has struck a chord with many netizens, who took to social media to show their support.

Star actress Chompoo Araya A. Hargate told reporters in an interview that she’s been following updates on the rescue mission, adding that she “understands the heavy hearts the parents must have right now.”

Meanwhile, Princess Chulabhorn Walailak donated THB500,000 (US$15,625) to the Chiang Rai’s governor to go toward rescue efforts.

Across the web, artwork and encouraging words from the public have poured in as the entire country holds its breath and prays for good news. Check them out below.

Additional reporting by AFP.

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