Rescue Teams Battle High Water To Find Boys Missing In Thai Cave

Chiang Rai, Thailand: Thai volunteers and military teams, including a navy SEAL unit, struggled through flood waters inside a cave on Wednesday in a search for a team of school boy soccer players missing since they set out to explore the complex on the weekend.

Rescue workers took turns pumping water from inside Tham Luang cave complex, which runs 10 km (6 miles) under a mountain in the northern province of Chiang Rai, but persistent heavy rain was compounding the difficulties.

"Last night, we worked non-stop in order to drain water out of the cave as much as possible," Major Buncha Duriyapan, commander of the 37th Military District in Chiang Rai, told Reuters.

The 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old assistant coach, went missing on Saturday after soccer practice.

They planned to explore the cave, even though it is known to be prone to flooding in the rainy season, and had taken flashlights and some food, according to messages they exchanged.

But nothing has been heard of them and no sign found, apart from some footprints and marks left by their muddy hands near the cave entrance.

The search has dominated the news in Thailand since the 13 were confirmed as missing late on Saturday and increasingly distraught relatives and friends have been gathering in the mud and rain at the mouth of the cave.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said three foreign divers would join the search.

"I hope to have good news soon," he told reporters in Bangkok.

Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said rescue workers have identified three chimneys, or shafts, rising up from the roof of the cave to the open air on the mountain above and rescuers hoped to descend through one of them.

"We are planning to rappel down one but the opening is narrow," Narongsak said.

'Massive Amounts' Of Water

Army officer Sergeant Kresada Wanaphum said the rising waters were the biggest problem and low oxygen levels hampered efforts to extract it.

"Water is the biggest challenge. There is a lot of debris and sand that gets stuck while pumping," Kresada told Reuters.

"We have to switch out units because there is not enough air in there," he added, before heading back into the cave.

A guide book to the caves of northern Thailand describes the Tham Luang cave as having an "impressive entrance chamber" leading to a marked path. It then describes the end of the path and the start of a series of chambers and boulders.

"This section of the cave has not been thoroughly explored. After a couple of hundred metres the cave reduces in size to a mud floored passage 2 m wide and 3 m high," writes Martin Ellis, author of 'The Caves of Thailand Volume 2'.

Vern Unsworth, a British cave explorer based in Chiang Rai who has joined the search, said a lot of water was seeping into the cave from two directions.

"There is a watershed inside, which is unusual, it means there is water coming in from two directions," Unsworth told Reuters.

"The biggest challenge is the water. Massive amounts."Nopparat Kantawong, the head coach of the team who did not attend practice on Saturday, said he was hopeful that the boys would stay strong and pull through.

"They won't abandon each other," Nopparat told reporters.    

The boys had visited the cave several times before, he said.

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25 Killed, Over 2000 Evacuated As Guatemalan Volcano Erupts, City Airport Shut

Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense staffers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.

Guatemala City: 


  1. The strong eruption was the second major one this year
  2. The dead were from farming communities just south of the volcano
  3. The Spanish colonial-era city is Guatemala's top tourist attraction

At least 25 people were killed when Guatemala's Fuego volcano erupted Sunday, belching ash and rock and forcing the airport to close, the country's disaster agency said.

"The toll was 25 dead as of 9:00 pm (0300 GMT Monday)," the spokesman for the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) said in a WhatsApp group.

Search and rescue operations for the missing and dead have been suspended due to low light and dangerous conditions, and will resume early on Monday morning, the spokesman said.

The eruption sent ash billowing over the surrounding area, turning plants and trees gray and blanketing streets, cars and people. 

Farmers covered in ash fled for their lives as civil defense staffers tried to relocate them to shelters during the event.

Earlier, Conred chief Sergio Cabanas and President Jimmy Morales held a news conference, saying that the eruption left seven dead, 20 injured and affected more than 1.7 million people.

Morales announced a red alert for Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez, the areas most affected by the eruption, and an orange alert throughout the country.

The president said he and his government would determine whether to ask Congress to declare a state of emergency in the areas, while at the same time appealing to the population for calm.

guatemala volcano ash afpAshes from the volcano covered vehicles, resulted in airport shutdown

Hundreds of personnel from the police, Red Cross and military have been dispatched to support emergency operations, Morales said.

Cabanas said that the dead included a civil protection official and others trapped by muddy material that descended from the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) volcano.

Twenty people suffered burn injuries, and more than 3,000 were evacuated due to the eruption, which affected rural communities around the volcano as well as Antigua Guatemala, a colonial-era town very popular with tourists in the Central American country, he said.

There are also "missing persons, but we do not know how many," Cabanas said, adding that lava had blocked entry to several communities.

Dense ash blasted out by the volcano shut down Guatemala City's international airport, civil aviation said.

People were working to clean ash off the runways to get the airport operating again.

It is the second major eruption this year from the peak, following another that subsided at the beginning of February after sending ash towering 1.7 kilometers into the sky.

Guatemala has two other active volcanoes, Santiaguito in the west and Pacaya just south of the capital.

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Search of Missing Persons among Debris in Mocoa, Colombia, Continues

Bogotá, April 4 (Prensa Latina) Survivors of one of the worst humanitarian tragedies in Colombia, Mocoa residents woke up again today in the mud and debris left by the avalanches, where they are still searching for missing relatives.

And although President Juan Manuel Santos ruled out the possibility of another devastating mudslide, the villagers look with suspicion on the surrounding rivers whose overflow left at least 273 dead and 262 injured persons.

According to the Red Cross, the villagers are trying to find around 300 people who have been missing since last Saturday.

The avalanches of mud and stone dragged trees, houses, bridges and everything they found in their path.

After a review carried out by the Air Force in all the rivers and streams near Mocoa, it was possible to conclude that there is no danger of another avalanche at this moment, the governor insisted.

A total of 70 injured persons were transferred to health centers outside the municipality and 27 are in the local hospital, while Legal Medicine handed the bodies of 100 victims to their relatives, said the president in a message to citizens.

'Now -he added- comes the prevention phase in order to avoid epidemics in shelters where part of the victims are refugees and in the city, capital of the southern department of Putumayo.'

Yesterday, Santos appointed the defense minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, as manager for the reconstruction of Mocoa, a hot territory of 50 thousand inhabitants located in the foothills of the Amazon.

In May 2015 a similar event struck the settlement of Salgar Antioquia; then the floods caused the death of more than a hundred people.

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8 people found alive under snow after avalanche hits hotel in Italy

Almost two days after up to 30 people were feared dead when an avalanche hit a hotel in Italy, eight people were discovered alive under the snow.

The first woman and her daughter have been pulled out of the rubble, and is being evacuated to safety, ANSA agency reported. 

Rescuers are now working to recover other survivors from snow, fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said, as cited by Reuters.

“They are alive and we are talking to them,” he told the agency by phone.

In a conflicting report, AP cited a local policeman talking from the scene by radio, who put the number of survivors at five, adding that choppers had been requested for the rescue operation.

Rescuers worked through the night, in extreme conditions, with temperatures well below zero, ANSA reported them as saying.

“Since yesterday evening we are working in difficult conditions in the search for survivors. Dogs often sniff odors but we must dig to over 4, 5 meters before reaching the ground,” Matteo Gasparini, head of the rescue team, said.

Up to 30 people were declared missing on Wednesday afternoon, and were feared dead for many hours.

As of now, two of the victims’ bodies have been found, and two others have been located, according to local media.

The avalanche, which was triggered by a string of earthquakes, struck the base of the Gran Sasso mountain range near the Rigopiano di Farindola hotel. There were about 20 guests and seven staff members at hotel at the time of the disaster.

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Irish in avalanche-hit province urged to 'make contact with family' as up to 30 people believed dead

Up to 30 people are believed to have been killed in an avalanche in Italy, according to media reports.

An Italian rescue official said that the avalanche was supposedly triggered after a quake which hit the Abruzzo region in Central Italy on Wednesday.

(19gen-8:30) , Drago54 sta calando ora squadre soccorso con verricello su obiettivo

Rescuers battled extreme conditions overnight to reach the hotel which is located close to the Gran Sasso mountain.

Several Italian news websites are quoting the president of the province's statement on social media in which he said the Hotel Rigopiano was buried in snow. car drives along the main road to Monterale, after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck the region, on January 19, 2017. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLAROANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

"There seem to be victims, but it all needs to be confirmed. There were 20 guests in the hotel," provincial President Antonio Di Marco said at the time.

More than 12 hours after the wall of snow smashed into the hotel, only two survivors had been accounted for.

Antonio Crocetta, the head of a group of Alpine police that was trying to reach the cut-off hotel, said; "There are many dead."

Emergency workers now fear the hotel will collapse.

 "We haven't been able to do too much. The structure has collapsed. It's more like a pile of rubble than a hotel," said Antonio Crocetta, a member of the Alpine Rescue squad who was on the scene.

"What is left of the hotel is in danger of collapse. The hotel is almost completely destroyed. We've called out but we've heard no replies, no voices. We're digging and looking for people," he told Reuters speaking by telephone. ski resort is located approximately 180km east of Rome

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told that they are aware of an avalanche in Abruzzo, Italy but there are no indications of any Irish people being involved.

"There are no indications of any Irish citizens being involved," a spokesperson said.

"Irish citizens in the area should make contact with their family and follow the advice of local authorities.

"Anyone with serious concerns for Irish citizens in the area can call +39 06 585 2381/+353 1 408 2527."

The resort is located approximately 180km east of Rome.

Video footage showed rescuers with shovels digging through a wall of snow, and at least one man being led through the cleared path.

An ambulance was blocked several miles from the hotel, according to Sky News.

Earthquakes hit the region on Wednesday, including one with a 5.7 magnitude, but it was not immediately clear if they triggered the avalanche.



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Second Data Recorder of Russian Crashed Plane Recovered

Moscow, Dec 28 (Prensa Latina) Rescue personnel have recovered the second flight data recorder from the wreckage of the Russian Tu-154 in the Black Sea, as well as 15 bodies of the 92 people that perished in the crash last Sunday.

They've also discovered 12 large plane fragments and 1,547 smaller ones, the Russian Defense Ministry reported Wednesday.

Rescuers have retrieved a total of 15 bodies and 239 body parts at the crash site of the Russian military plane in the Black Sea and sent to Moscow for genetic identification, the Defense Ministry said.

Samples have been collected from 105 relatives of the victims for examination.

Some 45 ships, 15 submarines, 192 divers, 12 planes, five helicopters and crane-ship para taking part in the search and rescue operations.

The Tu-154 plane was carrying 92 people, all dead, of whom 8 were crew members and among the rest there were 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, popularly known as the the Red Army Choir.

There were also two Government officials, nine journalists and leading members of humanitarian organizations.

The aircraft left the resort city of Sochi on its way to the Russian air base of Hmeimim, Syria. The artists as well the rest of the passengers were going to take part in celebrations over the victory on terrorism in Aleppo and the return of peace to that Syrian northern city.

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Tech failure & human error among main theories for Tu-154 crash, terrorism all but ruled out

The main theories as to why the Tu-154 crashed off Sochi’s coast include a “technical problem or piloting error,” Russia’s transport minister said. Meanwhile, the search operation for debris, black boxes and the bodies of those on board continues, with more ships, divers and aircraft arriving at the scene.

A terrorist act is not suspected among the main possible causes of the crash that killed 92 people on Sunday, Minister Maksim Sokolov said.

 A search operation near the Black Sea coast where a Tu-154 plane of the Russian Ministry of Defense crashed near Sochi. © Nina Zotina  Today, the main theories do not include terrorism, so we assume that either technical problems or a piloting error may have been the cause. But I stress that only an investigation, along with a special technical Ministry of Defense committee will tell us for sure,” the official told a briefing on Monday.

There are so far “no facts indicating a possibility of a terrorist act or diversion aboard the aircraft,” the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) also announced on Monday. According to the FSB data, among the main possible causes of the crash are penetration of foreign objects into the engine, faulty fuel, piloting error and technical failure.

There was no military or double-purpose cargo on the Tu-154, nor were there any pyrotechnical devices, the FSB said. During refueling in the airport in Adler, a district of the Black Sea resort of Sochi, there were no unauthorized people near the plane.

The search operation has been stepped up. Some 3,500 people are currently working in three shifts. 

Forty-five vessels and five helicopters, as well as drones, are now involved in the search operation, according to the latest information from the Russian Defense Ministry.

With updates coming in from emergency and investigative authorities, one of the reports said that a unit of the Emergencies Ministry “[has] discovered large parts of Tu-154 at a depth of about 27 meters,” RT's Ilya Petrenko reported from Sochi. The FSB said they had found witnesses of the crash and a dashcam footage that is currently being examined, he added.

The search zone around the crash site has been expanded, the Emergency Ministry said.

The flight recorders of the crashed Tu-154 haven't been recovered yet, the head of Russia's Emergency Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, told TASS.

The Tu-154 was initially supposed to refuel in the city of Mozdok in North Ossetia, but due to bad weather the plane was redirected to another airport, “therefore, nobody knew beforehand that the plane would refuel at the airport in Sochi,” a security source told TASS.

After arriving in Adler, “only two border guards and one customs officer came onboard, and only one navigator shortly left the plane to control refueling,” the source added.

Elizaveta Glinka, head of the Fair Help Foundation © Sergey Pivovarov The Tu-154 transport plane had 92 people on board, including 84 passengers and eight crew members. It went missing over the Black Sea shortly after refueling at an airport near Sochi. Most of the passengers on board were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the official choir of the Russian Armed Forces.

READ MORE: 64 members of world-renowned Alexandrov army band lost in Tu-154 crash (VIDEO)

They were traveling from Moscow to the Russian military base in Khmeimim near Latakia, Syria, to take part in a Christmas celebration with the troops deployed there. The head of the choir, conductor, and composer Valery Khalilov, was also onboard.

The passenger list released by the Defense Ministry on Saturday also includes Elizaveta Glinka, a revered charity activist and humanitarian worker best known by her nickname “Doctor Liza.” 

The first plane transporting the victims’ remains has arrived safely in Moscow at Chkalovsky airport outside the Russian capital on Monday.

Russia is observing a nationwide day of mourning for the victims of the Tu-154 crash on Monday.

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