Australian Federal Police officers with cave diving experience have begun their mission inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand to find 12 young soccer players and their coach who have been missing for more than a week.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters on Monday the six highly trained officers left Darwin on Saturday and have already been put to work.
"They have already commenced diving operations and we are supporting the Thai recovery efforts as effectively as we can," she told reporters in Melbourne.
The AFP officers and Thai Navy SEALS, carrying ropes and extra oxygen, have pushed through a kilometre-long passage of murk to reach a bend where the tunnel splits in two directions.
The group is aiming for a sandy chamber, known as Pattaya Beach, high up in the cave where they hope the Thai boys and their coach have been able to shelter.
The AFP officers arrived at the site early on Sunday.
The Australian team has joined forces with 11 Chinese rescue experts, up to 32 US forces personnel, three British divers and a British cave expert as well as rescue teams from Myanmar and Laos.
The missing boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province on June 23. Heavy rains that flooded key passages are believed to have trapped the soccer players and have thwarted their rescue.
Rescuers have been stymied again and again by muddy water rising to the ceiling of the chamber, forcing them to withdraw for safety reasons.
© AAP 2018 Image credit: AAP Image/Australian Department of Defence, SGT Ray Vance