Thai cave rescue: Good conditions for extracting trapped boys, soccer coach

Tanya Simon
July 8, 2018

"It's been 16 days, and today we finally got to see the Wild Boars' faces", he said, referring to the name of their soccer team.

Mr Narongsak said that the rescue operation could take a number of days or be halted at any time.

This complex and extremely fraught extraction has rescuers taking as much time as possible to complete the delicate mission ahead.

"There is no other day that we are more ready than today", he said.

Four boys have been brought above ground, rescuers say.

The coach will be in the final group.

As the rush to figure out how to rescue the group continues some have chided Ekapol for leading the team into the cave.

The young soccer players and their coach have been trapped in the vast cave system since June 23, when monsoon rains flooded the cave while they were exploring inside.

Rescue officials prepare to receive the boys and their coach as evacuation begins at Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, on Sunday.

Divers have brought the boys "food, electrolyte drinks, drinking water, medicine and oxygen canisters", the AP reports.

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the anaesthetist entered the cave on Saturday to check the boys' health and has been working closely with on-site doctors.

Thai rescuers are being assisted by an worldwide team comprising experts from China, Australia, the USA and Britain. None of the boys can swim, but they have been given extensive diving lessons since being found.

In this July 3, 2018, image taken from video provided by the Thai Navy Seal, Thai boys are with Navy SEALs inside the cave, Mae Sai, northern Thailand. The rescue team is already inside the cave carrying out the operation.

Elite divers on Sunday, July 8 began the extremely risky operation to extract 12 boys and their football coach who have been trapped in a flooded cave complex in northern Thailand for more than two weeks, with some of the rescuers reaching the area where the team is sheltering.

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"Today is the D-day".

Rain on Saturday evening and throughout Sunday was thought to be the catalyst for starting the rescue operation but appears not to have halted or significantly slowed its progress. It's being reported that the earliest the boys will come out is 9pm tonight local time.

The first boy rescued exited the cave 5:40 p.m. local time, followed by three of his team members shortly after.

Osottanakorn confirmed all 13 inside the cave are "really healthy".

Media have been cleared from the staging area around the cave complex.

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.

How the Thai cave boys' rescue operation will play out.

Thai rescuers said they will not immediately attempt an underwater evacuation of 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach who have been trapped in a cave for nearly two weeks because they have not learned adequate diving skills in the short time since they were found.

Thirteen of the divers are foreign, including eight Australians.

The boys and an adult were stuck 4 km inside the Tham Luang cave. Some of the submerged tunnels are less than a metre high. Each boy and the coach are to be accompanied by two highly experienced divers.

On Sunday, there was a break in the rain and a small window to start the rescue attempt, the Thai government said.

"Quite apart from his own cave exploration experiences, as an anaesthetist and a medical professional who is also involved in retrieval medicine, he has always struck me as a person who is capable of calmly assessing any situation and then acting appropriately".

Authorities had said that incoming monsoon rains that could send water levels in the cave rising, coupled with falling oxygen levels in the enclosed space, added to the urgency of getting those trapped out.

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