Thailand cave rescue: Divers rescue 2 boys trapped in cave

Ruben Holloway
July 9, 2018

Rescue teams in Thailand began the first stage of an operation to save a youth soccer team from a flooded underground cave, with four of the twelve boys successfully rescued.

The first two boys emerged about nightfall from the Tham Luang cave complex after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways. They will be taken to a nearby helipad with a police motorcycle escort before being flown to the provincial capital of Chiang Rai for treatment in a hospital there.

Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said earlier that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they're gradually extracted.

"Six of them came out", a defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

Divers are set to resume their rescue of a Thai soccer team trapped inside a flooded cave later today, after earlier swimming four of the boys - including the weakest child - to safety.

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

"Today is D-Day", Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters.

Twelve boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a game, reports said. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old.

Eight boys and the coach remain trapped, and the ordeal has been a closely watched news story around the globe.

The group was found dishevelled and hungry by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in.

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Officials said Saturday they have about a three- to four-day window in which conditions will be "most favourable" for the boys to attempt to dive out before monsoon rains hit and continue for months.

A former Navy SEAL and combat swimmer said that the unsafe and harrowing rescue of a soccer team trapped in a flooded Thailand cave was comparable to climbing the tallest mountain in the world. "If that's the case, then we have to reassess the situation", he said. He has also thanked global experts who helped find the boys.

The story of the "Wild Boars" soccer team, who first ventured into the caves more than two weeks ago before flood waters trapped them inside, has gripped Thai and worldwide media.

Sustained heavy rains could make the water rise to the shelf where the children were sitting, reducing the area to "less than 10 square meters", he added.

One of the primary concerns will be the boys' exposure to a lack of oxygen, said Dr. Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee.

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Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted that a team from his rocket company SpaceX in Los Angeles is building a mini-sub to help with the rescue. One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

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