(CNN) — Tech billionaire Elon Musk is sending specialist engineers to Thailand to help aid the rescue of the 12 boys and their football coach trapped in a cave.
Musk hopes his engineers can join the already huge operation being carried out in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex, where dozens of Thai Navy SEALs and international experts are attempting to find a way to get the boys out.
Musk, founder of the Boring Company, as well as the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX tweeted Thursday: “SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt. There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person.”
On Friday the Thai government confirmed that Musk’s engineers will arrive on Saturday, July 7 on its Facebook page.
“Elon Musk will send his team to Thailand tomorrow (7th July) to help in cave rescue. He may provide services for location tracking, water pumping or battery power,” read the statement.
Musk had initially questioned whether his company could aid rescue efforts with its “advanced ground penetrating radar” as well as the company’s “fully charged Powerpacks and pumps.”
He also considered whether it was “maybe worth trying” inserting a nylon tube into the cave network to create an air tunnel underwater.
The members of the Wild Boar soccer team were reported missing on June 23 when they didn’t return from an outing after practice. They entered the cave during fine weather but became trapped when a sudden downpour flooded the narrow tunnels.
Rescuers have been examining ways to bring the boys out, including fitting them with full-face oxygen masks and accompanying them on a long, dangerous swim through the tunnels.
On Friday it was confirmed that a former Thai Navy diver who had volunteered to help the rescue had died, according to government officials.
The death of an experienced diver in the cave system underlines the inherent risks in attempting to move the boys, who are physically weak after days without food.
It takes even the most experienced divers up to five hours to swim through jagged, narrow channels from where the boys are to safety outside.
Former Sgt. Saman Kunan, a Thai ex-SEAL, died at 2 a.m. Friday (2 p.m. Thursday ET), as he returned from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave where the boys are located.
The 38-year-old ran out of air while underwater, an official said.
Officials initially thought they could keep the boys and their coach in the cave where they are trapped for up to four months, until waters dropped sufficiently for them to be able to walk out.
But the death of a rescue team member, and the realization that oxygen levels have fallen to potentially dangerous levels, appears to have forced a reassessment of the situation.
Thai Navy SEAL chief Rear Adm. Aphakorn Yoo-kongkaew said oxygen levels in the cave had dropped to 15%, a level that one Thai medic said posed a serious risk of hypoxia, the same condition that causes altitude sickness. It was too dangerous to leave the boys much longer, Yoo-kongkaew said, despite the risks involved in attempting to bring them out.
“We can no longer wait for all conditions (to be ready) because of the oppressive situation,” he told journalists Friday.
“We originally thought the young boys could stay safe inside the cave for quite a long time but circumstances have changed. We have limited amount of time.” He did not say how long they could survive with current oxygen levels, but he said getting more oxygen piped into the boys was top priority.
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