Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Thailand cave rescue: Mission to save boys under way

Thailand cave rescue: Mission to save boys under way

At 10am on Sunday (11am WST) 18 divers entered the cave in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Rai, where 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach have been trapped for two weeks.

"Today we managed to rescue and send back four children to Chiang Rai Prachanukrua Hospital safely", the head of the rescue operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said at a news conference.

The process is extremely risky, but officials say waters right now are at their optimal level inside the cave after a few days of better weather - and they're anxious about the potential for more rains to fill the flooded caves even further.

The four had been trapped underground with eight other boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old soccer coach for more than two weeks. The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

An Australian doctor who was part of the rescue mission assessed the boys' health on Saturday night and cleared them for the rescue mission, Reuters said.

Image: Rescuers searching for 12 missing boys and their football coach say they have all been found alive, officials in Thailand have said. British divers were first to locate the boys on Monday, July 2. "I promise to take the very best care of the kids", Ekkapol said in a note given to a diver on Friday, and published on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page on Saturday.

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

According to a document released by the Thai authorities, two divers will accompany each of the teenagers.

Narongsak explained the group made a decision to move forward with the mission because heavy rains are expected in the area in the coming days, which could have further complicated the rescue.

When the boys are freed, they will immediately be taken to Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, around 60 miles from the cave site.

Crews launched an operation to rescue the boys and their coach Sunday morning.

"Experts' assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be", Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander said.

Meanwhile, efforts are on to save the children from the caverns as rain water has filled the rescue route.

The boys reportedly do not know how to dive and reports have suggested they are weak swimmers.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

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