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'D-Day': dangerous mission underway to save Thai boys trapped in cave

09 July, 2018, 00:14 | Author: Rachael Silva
  • A cave complex is seen after 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand Wednesday

A risky rescue mission to free 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a Thai cave for two weeks has begun, authorities said.

But Narongsak and the Thai Navy SEALS, who are involved in the rescue and have regularly posted updates about the operation on their Facebook page, reported only four were out of the cave.

The 12 boys and their coach were exploring the cave when they became trapped by flood waters on 23 June.

Monsoon flooding had initially cut off their escape, and rescuers were unable to find them for more than a week.

The boys were rescued using full face masks, Narongsak said at a news conference where he described it as the "very smooth operation".

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are flawless [for evacuation] in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health", Narongsak told reporters.

They'd participated in rescue drills in the past few days, he said. Each wore a full-faced diving mask and was escorted out by two divers. They have been stuck in the cave since June 23 after heavy rains flooded the Tham Luang Nan Non caves in Chiang Rai, a popular tourist attraction in the region. This week, a former Thai Navy SEAL died after passing out during the journey through the cave, and officials said some of the boys are in poor condition from their long stay in the cave. He says the divers went in at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday and the boys will gradually come out accompanied by two divers each.


The first two boys - described as the weakest of the group - emerged from the Tham Luang cave complex and were immediately transported by ambulance to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital one hour away.

According to our correspondent, Thai officials have warned the rescue could take three or four days in the worst case scenario.

Rescuers and the families of the 12 boys and their football coach being saved from a Thai cave complex are "cautiously optimistic". "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission".

"People don't understand how much gear these guys have", Zweig said of the rescuers. Thai authorities are calling it a war against the water.

The identity of the first boys is unknown, as if whether any more are following soon.

Meanwhile, efforts are on to save the children from the caverns as rain water has filled the rescue route. "You don't need to be anxious about me".

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