A former Navy Seal has died while delivering supplies to the Thai football team who are trapped in a cave.
Petty Officer Saman Gunan lost consciousness on his way out of the cave, where he’d been delivering air tanks to those inside.
His dive partner managed to bring him out of the water, but Gunan did not regain consciousness.
According to the BBC the Chiang Rai deputy governor said:
His job was to deliver oxygen. He did not have enough on his way back
PO Saman Gunan, thought to be 38-years-old, had left the navy, but returned to help with the rescue operation of the boys and their coach.
Gunan was part of a massive rescue operation by Thai officials, which was launched after the young boys and their coach became stranded in the Thai Luang cave, due to flooding.
Thai Seal commander Rear Adm Arpakorn Yookongkaew told reporters:
Inside the cave is tough. On the way back from setting up oxygen bottles, Petty Officer First Class Gunan passed out.
His buddy tried to give him first aid, but he did not respond. We brought him to chamber three and gave him another round of
first aid, but he remained unconscious. So we took him to the hospital.
He added how the search and rescue operation will continue:
I can guarantee that we will not panic, we will not stop our mission, we will not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste.
Around 1,000 people are currently involved in the rescue efforts, including navy divers, military personnel and civilian volunteers.
PO Gunan’s death highlights the extreme dangers involved in the rescue operation.
Officials say Gunan’s funeral will be sponsored by the Thai king.
Thai Seal commander, Rear Admiral Arpakom Yookongkaew said the team would take even more precautions with the children – who are aged between 11 and 16 – as well as their coach.
The group of young boys and their 25-year-old coach were found alive after going missing in caves in Thailand over a week ago.
The caves were flooded due to relentless rain in the area, making the search for the group extremely difficult.
Due to the large number of people inside the caves, authorities are concerned about the falling oxygen levels.
The team is now working to get a 5km (3 mile) cable into the cave to supply the group with air.
The group were exploring when rising water from torrential rain trapped them inside. They were found by two British divers on Monday, July 2, nine days after the group entered the caves.
The boys are reportedly now in good health, and are being regularly supplied with food and medical care while authorities work out the best way to bring them out – in the safest way possible.
Rescue operations have been trying to lower the level of the water in the cave by pumping it. However, if the water levels do not drop, the group will have to learn how to use diving equipment or wait months until the rainy season ends and the cave clears.
Our thoughts are with all those affected.
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.