The young footballers and their 25-year-old coach believed to be trapped inside a 10-kilometre-long cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district visited the cave in late December 2016.
Photos in Facebook of football coach Ekkapon Chantawongse, who last Saturday went into the cave with his 12 teenaged footballers and got stuck inside after a flash flood blocked their way out, show them on a previous visit inside the cave in Tham LuangKhunnam Nang Non National Park.
The photos were stamped December 30, 2016 and Ekkapon wrote that the visit was a special training session prior to a football match. The missing youth are members of a local football team, the Mu Pa Academy Mae Sai (‘Mu Pa’ refers to wild pigs).
The posted photos suggest Ekkapon was close to his team, as they show him with the young team members on and off the field.
Meanwhile Pol Colonel Possawee Chotetienchaiwat, a provincial deputy police commander, told reporters of the latest rescue attempt. The Navy’s SEAL unit members had drilled into the first hall but found only footprints believed to be of the missing group. There are two halls inside the cave. The search team will next try to enter the second hall through a small hole, Possawee said.
It is believed that the group had gone into the cave before a flash flood hit the area, blocking their exit.