Thailand cave rescue: First boys rescued from trapped soccer team
09 July, 2018, 12:27
The four boys, who are thought to have been in the weakest condition of the 12-member football team that went missing with their coach more than two weeks ago, were sent straight to hospital after they emerged from the cave with rescue divers on Sunday night. Efforts to bring the remaining eight boys and their adult coach to the surface will resume on Monday morning.
Authorities said the next phase could begin any time within a 10-hour window that began about 7 a.m. Monday.
Extracting everyone could take up to four days, but the initial success has raised hopes that could be done.
The first four boys rescued from flooded Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, are transferred to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Muang district. The next day (7th July), it was decided by the rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn that it was not yet safe for the boys to dive out of the cave.
The rescue mission is proving to be hard for divers whose efforts are continually hampered by rising water that has filled sections of the cave, often forcing them to stop.
"We've used all the oxygen", Narongsak said, adding that the clock is continuing to tick for the remaining boys who are still waiting in the cave along with their coach, and rescuers are going to focus on refilling the oxygen tanks so they can continue the operation.
Narongsak said 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs took part in the key leg of the rescue: taking the boys from where they have been sheltering and through dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.
"The fact that it took so many hours underscores how precarious this whole mission is", she said.
Officials called the four boys who have already been rescued, "hungry, but happy". A former Thai navy SEAL passed out while making the dive Friday and died.
Ambulances and rescue crews have returned to the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand for a second operation to free more trapped boys.
Rescuers woke to gloomy skies and potential thunderstorms following a night of heavy monsoonal rains lashing the mountainous region. Operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said a total of 90 divers would be involved in the rescue mission, with 40 divers from Thailand, and 50 from overseas, including the United States, Australia, China, and Europe, according to the Washington Post.
Falling oxygen levels, and with numerous boys not able to swim well, present further risks should they panic as they are guided slowly through the pitch-black waters.
The 12 boys - ages 11 to 16 - entered the massive cave complex on the frontier of Thailand and Myanmar with their 25-year-old coach on June 23.
Karadzic said the British divers are the most skilled in the group - "when it comes to cave diving, the U.K.is the best", he said - and acted as beginning-to-end "buddy" escorts for those rescued Sunday.
The children are said to be in high spirits and "ready to go".
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The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public on Saturday.
The letters from the boys penned by the Thai Navy SEAL who is staying with the boys in the cave.
"I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he wrote. "I want to say thanks for all the support, and I want to apologize".