A navy diver from Thailand died Thursday trying to save 12 boys and their soccer coach who’ve been trapped inside a cave for 13 days.
Thirty-eight-year-old Samarn Poonan, a former member of Thailand’s Navy SEAL unit, died while working underwater in the cave trying to create an escape route, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Thai Parents Beg Spirits To Help Trapped Children)
“We won’t let his life be in vain. We will carry on,” admiral Arpakorn Yuukongkaew told reporters Friday. Samarn was working on placing oxygen tanks in parts of the cave and became unconscious.
“Once his mission was over he dove back, but in the middle of their return his buddy found Samarn unconscious in the water and tried to pump his heart, but he could not save his life,” Samarn’s SEAL unit said in a statement.
Officials say the oxygen levels in the cave are falling to dangerous levels as rescuers race against the clock to create an “oxygen pipeline,” Reuters reported. The alternative would be to teach the survivors how to dive and have them swim to safety, but this option is said to be highly dangerous.
The boys went missing on June 23 and are between ages 11 and 16, according to Reuters. They will have to be taught how to use complex diving gear, despite some not knowing how to swim.
“Regarding the plan for the 13 to swim or dive, there is only one critical point which is risky: It is where every boy has to dive alone,” Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told Reuters.
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