The death of Kunan, an experienced diver, in the cave system underlines the inherent dangers in attempting to move the boys, who are now physically weak after days without food .
One of Kunan’s longtime friends, Sgt. Anuram Kaewchano, told CNN he was shocked to learn the news .
“I can’t believe this happened, ” he told CNN by phone. “He was very fit, he exercised every day, and he was a triathlete. Our last trip-up together was to Malaysia.”
He added that the last time the two spoke, “we talked about the kids — whether they were out yet.”
SEAL chief Yookongkaew said Kunan may have passed out, causing him to drown, “but we have to wait for the autopsy.”
“Diving is always full of dangers, ” he said .
A military aircraft will carry Kunan’s body from Chiang Rai to Satthahip Navy Base Friday evening. A funeral service will take place there, and then at his home township in the province of Roi Et , northern Thailand .
Pornphimon Pansurin, a counselor from the nearby Darunrat School who teaches Ekarat Wongsukjan, one of the missing sons, said the missing sons may feel responsible for the misfortune .
“If they learn about what has happened they will blamed themselves, ” she told CNN. “They will feel very guilty.”
The members of the Wild Boar soccer team were reported missing on June 23 when they didn’t return from an outing after football practise. They entered the cave during fine weather but became trapped when a sudden cloudburst inundated the narrow tunnels .
The 12 boys and their coach-and-four were found deep inside the cave by two British cave divers on Monday, perched on a boulder slab above inundate waters, after nine days without food or fresh water .
Rescue squads have been pumping millions of liters of water from the cave in an attempt to lower water level to the extent that the boys can simply walk out. However more rain is forecast this weekend, putting pressure on rescuers to act soon or have to contend with even higher water levels inside the cramped chambers .
Thailand’s monsoon season operates from July to October and, while the past few days have been relatively dry, the long term forecast is rain for months .
Correction: The spelling of the deceased diver’s name has been updated to reflect new information .
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