Pope Francis is praying for a group of young boys who have been trapped in an underground cave in Thailand for over a week. Rescue searchers trying to reach the 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their 26-year-old football coach in a flooded cave complex are using huge pumps to reduce the water level, allowing divers to place guide ropes and oxygen tanks along the route. Rising floodwater in the cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai has stalled the search-and-rescue operation. Rescuers in flooded Tham Luang cave were on July 2 trying to penetrate a very narrow passage to "Pattaya Beach," an area of higher ground where the 13 missing people may be sheltering. Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said rescuers had managed to reach the Sam Yak three-way junction, but the most critical section of the murky underground labyrinth lies ahead. A Thai Royal Navy Seal unit was working with about 230 policemen, 840 soldiers and dozens of rescuers and officials from countries around the globe to locate the group. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan
said in Bangkok that the strong water current in the narrow passage presents a major obstacle. All-out efforts continued to drain water from the cave and prevent fresh water from flowing into it, further raising the water level. The boys and their coach entered the cave after their football practice on June 23 and the search entered its 10th day on July 2.