Rescue Diver Involved In Thai Cave Operation Confirmed Dead

The former Navy SEAL has been identified as Saman Kunan.

One of the divers involved in the Thailand cave rescue operation has died, authorities confirmed on Friday.

The former Navy SEAL diver, out of retirement to help with the rescue, died inside the cave from lack of oxygen.

The tragic news was followed by the beginning of the foretasted downpour that puts at further risk the mammoth rescue effort.

The man who died was a former Navy SEAL who had offered to come back and rejoin the team in order to help rescue the 13 people trapped.

He has reportedly been identified as Saman Kunan, 38, from Roi Et in north-east Thailand.

He died in the early hours of Friday morning about 2am local time, Chiang Rai Deputy Governor Passakorn Boonaluck told reporters on Friday.

"His job was to deliver oxygen. He did not have enough on his way back."

Photos apparently of Kunan were shared on Facebook by a reporter for the Bangkok Post.

Source: Wassana Nanuam / Facebook.

His death throws into new perspective the plan to teach the boys to dive in order to get them out of the cave.

Experienced rescue divers have stressed the terrifying conditions of zero visibility and narrow passageways that would prove a challenge to experienced cave divers, let alone this team of young boys, many of whom can't swim.

"It would be the ultimate willpower not to panic," said a member of NSW Cave Rescue earlier this week.

Rescue workers have been diving the treacherous cave network back and forth, bringing the junior soccer team and their coach food, water and medical supplies.

It comes as the rescue efforts fight a race against time. A break in the weather has allowed them to pump millions of litres of water out of the caves -- reducing the level by as much as 40cm -- but if the monsoon rains hit, the team may be trapped for months.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms are predicted in the coming days, if not hours.

More to come.