American authorities insist they need to proceed with extreme caution to recover the bodies of two Thai students from a river 150 metres below a cliff in California, according to the Thai consulate in Los Angeles.
Thiwadee "Min" Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Pakkapol "Golf" Chairattanasongporn, 28, were trapped in their vehicle when it plunged off a mountain road on their way to Kings Canyon National Park in California.
They say the students' relatives have travelled to California, where they're urging authorities to retrieve the bodies.
Criticism has spread in Thailand and the U.S. that the Fresno County's Sheriff Office delayed the job because the victims were Asians not Americans.
Protests are planned in Fresno County and Los Angeles by the Thai Amercian Community as frustration mounts at the slow progress of the operation. Attempts to retrieve the "presumed victims" from the auto - reportedly two exchange students from Thailand - have been thwarted by weather and river conditions, according to the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
I would like family members to know that recovering their loved ones is a top priority at my office right now. "The Fresno County Sheriff Search and Rescue team has a lot of experience and is now working to develop a plan that is safest for them to effectively do their jobs. We ask for their patience during this delicate recovery process".
The Thai consulate in Los Angeles said in a statement that they are working closely with local police on the matter and have notified the families of the missing students who are still waiting for confirmation on their identities.
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the crash. "A date of when this will happen is still to be determined".
Police said that the airbags had been deployed and were blocking authorities from seeing inside.
A helicopter scouting the area found the auto standing half upright in King's River.