The rescue of a Thai youth soccer team trapped in a cave has turned deadly as a former Navy Seal died Friday while working to deliver supplies.
Thai Navy Seal Saman Kunan, 38, was on a diving mission delivering oxygen canisters when he lost consciousness and ran out of air.
His death was confirmed early Friday morning.
Seal commander Arpakorn Yookongkaew said in a statement following his death, "Despite this, we will continue until we accomplish our mission."
While the complex Tham Luang Nang Non cave system is expected to be largely flooded, with diving as the only way in or out, rescuers now believe there is less time than originally estimated to extract the 12 boys and their soccer coach.
Oxygen levels have fallen to 15 percent down from the usual 21 percent, which poses a serious risk of hypoxia, officials say.
"We originally thought the young boys could stay safe inside the cave for quite a long time, but circumstances have changed," Arpakorn said. "We have limited amount of time."
Aside from minor scratches, the boys and their soccer coach are not injured, and scuba divers have brought them medical supplies and food, but the top priority of rescuers is now to pump fresh oxygen into their chamber.
It was not immediately clear when officials are planning to extract them, despite original plans to wait until October, when the region's rainy season usually ends.
The boys, who range in age from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach disappeared while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Thailand following a soccer game on June 23.