Thailand cave rescue: Expert diver dies during operation to free trapped boys

A former Thai Navy SEAL aiding in the rescue efforts of the boys football team trapped in a cave in Thailand has died in the cave network due to a lack of oxygen.

According to the Guardian, the death was confirmed at a press conference and people have been paying tribute to the diver on Facebook.

The diver has been named as Saman Gunan, 38, a former Thai Navy SEAL. He was placing oxygen tanks around the cave and died on the way back from this task at 1am (local time).

International rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach trapped by flood waters Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing against time to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
International rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach trapped by flood waters. Source: Associated Press

Local news outlet Khaosod reports that Mr Gunan started diving at about 8.30pm.

On the way back out of the cave he fell unconscious. Attempts to resuscitate him in the third chamber failed.  

Mr Gunan's body was then brought out of the cave and taken to hospital where he was declared dead.

SEAL commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew said that the rescuer was working in a volunteer capacity and died during an overnight mission in which he was placing oxygen canisters.

He said while underwater, the rescuer passed out and efforts to resuscitate him failed.

"Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission," Mr Arpakorn said.

The massive rescue operation entered the 14th day on Friday after the 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped in the sprawling Tham Luang Nang Non cave by flood on June 23.

Twelve boys and their football coach have been trapped for days. Source: 1 NEWS

The former Thai navy Seal succumbed to lack of oxygen while delivering supplies. Source: 1 NEWS