Search for Missing Soccer Team Trapped in Thailand Cave Complex Intensifies

Family members gathered outside the cave system in northern Thailand to await news.

Rescuers are ramping up their desperate search for a youth soccer team trapped in a cave complex in northern Thailand, five days after they were last seen.

The group, which includes 12 boys under 16 and their coach, are believed to have been trapped by rising waters inside the Tham Luang caves when heavy rain hit the northern province of Chiang Rai, Reuters reported.

The U.S. joined the search for the missing team Thursday, sending a team of military personnel to assist in rescue efforts, according to CBS News.

The boys' bicycles and soccer boots were found at the mouth of the cave network, but no trace of the group has been found so far, officials said.

British divers attempted to enter the cave complex through the main entrance Wednesday, but were foiled by muddy and fast-moving floodwaters. 

On Thursday, the divers tried a different tactic: going in through the chimneys in the cave. 

Officials are optimistic the team found higher ground inside the system, which contains several air pockets.

“We still have hope," Thai army chief Gen. Chalermchai Sittisart told The Associated Press Wednesday. "All agencies are trying their best. We have a challenge from the water level that [keeps] rising."

Meanwhile, the boys' family members are camped outside the complex, awaiting news. On Thursday, Buddhist monks were photographed leading people in prayer at the entrance to the cave.