Narongsak Osottanakorn's cautious message of hope came a day after the death of a Thai rescue diver, a grim turn in what began two weeks ago as a celebration of one of the boys' birthdays at the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
It's been 15 days since the 13 were trapped after venturing into the Tham Luang cave and got trapped by rising waters.
Constant pumping has reduced the water level inside the cave, but new rain could not only re-flood the area, but also strengthen the water currents in the narrow passages though which rescuers and the boys must swim with the help of diving gear to exit the cave.
The boys and their coach, whose team is known as the Wild Boars, became stranded when they were exploring the cave after a practice game on June 23.
The Thai navy Seals, who have been spearheading the rescue effort, posted a photo on their Facebook page with a vow to bring the trapped team home from a flooded cave.
Seven British divers are among a team of 18 who are undertaking the unsafe operation to free them after their ordeal that began on June 23 before floodwaters made the cave impassible.
Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said authorities were waiting for two big groups of volunteer foreign divers to arrive this weekend, after which they will be ready to act quickly to bring the team members out when the conditions are right.
In the early hours of Saturday morning he said the boys were not yet ready to dive out of the cave, a complex and unsafe task through twisting and jagged submerged passageways.
Earlier at the sprawling cave mouth, lines of frogmen and soldiers with flashlights could be seen emerging from the darkness, as generators chugged and pumped water out through plastic pipes.
On Saturday, Musk tweeted an updated rescue plan, which essentially involves constructing "a tiny, kid-size submarine" that he plans to fly to Thailand.
The group had been missing for nine days before they were found huddled inside the cave and survived by drinking water dripping off the stalactites above them.
The Adelaide Advertiser reported on Sunday that Harris was working with the Royal Thai Navy and medical experts in Chiang Rai as they prepared the evacuation.
In a letter of his own, the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal. Much of the path out of the cave is flooded, and in places the cave gets as narrow as 70cm.
The local governor in charge of the rescue says the mission was launched Sunday morning because floodwaters inside the cave are at their lowest level in days and rains forecast to hit the region risk flooding the cave again. "Construction complete in about 8 hours, then 17 hour flight to Thailand", Musk tweeted just before noon, California time.
"Don't be anxious", wrote another boy, Mick.
Another, identified as Tun, writes: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine. I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he said in a note given to divers on Friday. "I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents". I'm happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care.
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Thai cave rescue: All 12 boys and their coach rescued
Thailand's junta chief told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a "minor tranquiliser" to help calm their nerves. People celebrated on Tuesday as divers evacuated some of the 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai .