Thai cave rescue: Remaining boys wait for operation to resume

Elena Summers
July 9, 2018

A unsafe mission to rescue 12 Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded cave for more than two weeks began on Sunday and authorities managed to bring out its first two survivors on Sunday evening.

The condition of one of the first two footballers rescued from the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai yesterday is causing some concern.

A group of divers and Thai Navy SEALs rescued the four boys on Sunday in ten minutes less than they had practiced beforehand in what was called a "smooth operation" by Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn.

"Six of them came out", a defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP. Shortly after nightfall, local time, Thai navy SEALs reported on Facebook that the four were rescued.

Two members of the trapped boys' soccer team have been rescued from a cave in northern Thailand, local officials say.

"We're ready for the operation today", said Narongsak, who said the weather and the water levels in the cave are good.

The head of the rescue operation, Narongsak Osatanakorn, had earlier told reporters that "Today is D-Day".

The boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16 years old, and their 25-year-old coach had been exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23.

The ordeal of the trapped children has drawn huge media attention to Thailand as the complicated operation unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

Officials had looked at many different ways to save the boys and their coach. "Everyone is a professional so we're trying to put it away and avoid it happening again", he said, adding: "Everybody is focusing on getting these boys out - keeping them alive or getting them out".

In the early hours of Saturday morning, he said the boys were not yet ready to dive out of the cave, a complex and risky task through twisting and jagged submerged passageways. "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission".

Though four boys have been rescued as of Sunday night, the mission to extract the rest could take two to four days depending on the conditions in the cave.

But with the rainy season just beginning, it has become clear that the flooding which originally trapped the boys will only get worse in the coming days.

As the monsoon rains begin, water is being pumped out of the caves and a plan is being developed to bring them to safety.

Meanwhile rescuers fed a kilometres-long air pipe into the cave to restore oxygen levels in the chamber where the team was sheltering with medics and divers.

Elon Musk's Space X rocket company tested a "tiny kid-sized submarine" that could potentially help the children through the narrow, flooded cave passageways. One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

Bodhi was not a member of the Wild Boars soccer club - rather he tagged along on the cave trek to be with a friend who is on the team.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone".

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