BANGKOK, Thailand Thai authorities have deployed more equipment in a race against time to rescue 12 teenage boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped deep inside a flooded cave complex in Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand since Saturday.

As the rescue mission entered its fourth day today, the rescue teams started to use a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) and drones equipped with heat detectors.

The underwater vehicle would feed data about the condition and depth of the cave before the divers enter, Sawangtit Srikitsuwan, the head of a joint team from the Air Force disaster prevention unit, said to the local media today.

The ROV had been previously used to survey marine natural disasters but never in a rescue operation, while the drones will be fielded outside the cave to assist in the mission, he said.

The deployment of hi-tech equipment will assist the rescue teams which include a dozen elite divers from the Royal Thai Navy who have been scouring underwater passageways inside the pitch-dark cave for the missing boys and their coach.

A team of divers from Sweden, according to the official, will also join the rescue operation today, while Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan proposed drilling the mountain if necessary.

As rescue teams intensified their effort, the current wet spell hampered the rescue mission as severe rains had caused water to rise to seven metres high in the cave, according to an irrigation officer.

Meanwhile, the families of the missing 13 have been camping outside the cave complex since the beginning of the rescue operation, waiting for any good news from the rescuers while offering prayers for their safe return.

A woman, Namhom Boonpiam, whose son, Mongkol, 13, is among the missing boys, said she had been waiting outside the cave for her son since Saturday after he failed to return home.

I haven't slept and I hope all of them can come out, all safe and sound. My son is a strong boy. I still have hope, she told the local media.

All the boys, from the local Moo Paa Football Academy, and their coach Ekkaphol Chantharawong failed to return home after they went inside the Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Noon Forest Park cave complex on Saturday evening.

Source: Nam News Network