The most likely rescue plan will involve the boys using full-face diving masks to navigate the narrow underwater tunnels with the assistance of SEALS. The problem is, non of them have any diving experience, and many of them cannot even swim. It is a six-hour dive through terrifyingly claustrophobic and narrow underwater passages – a dive that made the hardiest and most experienced of military divers rather apprehensive.

Cade Courtley, a former US Navy SEAL and author of the “SEAL Survival Guide” told CNN that even though he was part of a very specialist dive unit, that “this would be a challenging dive for me and my team.”

“Now you’re going to ask 11 to 15-year-olds — some of whom cannot swim — to make that same journey for the first time breathing air underwater?” he questioned.

Anmar Mirza, national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission noted that this was “one of the toughest rescues” he had ever seen. It has been reported that the military are training the boys how to dive in the event of an urgent evacuation being required.But Mirza said that “trying to teach them enough diving skills to dive them out” is near impossible. “It’s physically strenuous: in water, through blackout conditions, through tight squeezes for hundreds of meters,” he said.

“It’s something that skilled cave divers spend hundreds of hours training for after they have already been open water divers for quite some time,” he told CNN. “A moment of panic or loss of the breathing regulator can be fatal for the novice diver, and may also put the cave diver escorting him in danger.”

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The governor of Chiang Rai, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said he is in contact with the Navy divers to assess the viability of staging rescue operation that would involve the boys diving out through the lengthy underwater channels.

“What we worry most [about] is the weather,” Mr Narongsak told reporters, according to the Independent. “We can’t risk having the flood back into the cave.”