June 26 (UPI) — Several teenage players and the coach of a Thai soccer team may still be alive after being trapped in a cave for three days, officials said Tuesday.
Twelve boys between the ages of 11 to 16 and their 25-year-old coach have been missing in the Tham Luang Nang Non caves since Saturday.
Rescuers and Navy divers are still searching and reported seeing fresh footprints inside the cave complex.
“We are still optimistic they are all alive,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said. “Even though they may not have anything to eat, they should have water to drink.”
Authorities believe the team entered the cave Saturday afternoon. A search for them began later that night after they were reported missing.
Officials said there are roughly 40 chambers inside the cave complex, and rescuers believe the missing boys are still in the main chamber.
Families of the boys and coach are waiting at a makeshift camp near the caves for news, many of whom have been there since Saturday.
“I feel I have just lost my heart because I just found his bag, mobile phone and his shoes. But all I can do is just wait,” father Sudsakorn Sudtham, whose 14-year-old son is on the team, told CNN.