A search team has found the most promising looking shaft to date in the mission to rescue 12 teenage football players and their coach who entered Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai province last Saturday.
Paratroopers descended into the shaft to a depth of 11 metres, before it levelled then plunged a further 11 metres.
National Police Commissioner Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda and Deputy National Police Commissioner Pol General Wirachai Songmetta oversaw the operation.
Discovered after topographical analysis in collaboration with foreign experts, the shaft boosted hopes of locating the missing group, who are believed to have been stranded inside the cave by flash floods.
Rising floodwaters are hindering efforts to reach the group from the cave’s only known entrance, so rescue teams have started looking for alternative ways into the cave complex.
Efforts are now being focused on this shaft, which is now considered the best potential alternate passage into the cave. Photographs taken deep inside the shaft are being relayed back to planners and analysts in an effort to forge the best strategy to gain access to the cave.
GPS images indicate the mouth of the shaft sits just 60 metres above a main hall of Tham Luang Cave.
Given that paratroopers have already gone down 22 metres, the access to the cave’s main hall is less than 40 metres away.