Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Thai cave rescue mission: What you need to know

Thai cave rescue mission: What you need to know

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.

Some have chided Mr Ekapol for leading the team into the Tham Luang cave when there was a large warning sign at the cave's entrance about the risk of entering so close to the monsoon season.

Thai Navy soldiers in the flooded Tham Luang cave during rescue operations for the 12 boys and their football team coach.

Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave reached the rescue base camp inside the complex on Sunday and will walk out soon, the country's defense ministry spokesman told AFP.

Ten rescuers headed to the boys in chamber nine and to the junction at chamber six, while the others headed to support positions shortly afterwards. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam said.

The initial search was conducted by military divers, who were later joined by a group of 30 personnel of the United States Pacific Command and British cave diving rescue experts Richard Stanton, John Volanthen, and Robert Harper.

A source, speaking after the first two boys were rescued, said: "Two kids are out". The outgoing Chiang Rai province Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn in charge of rescue operation called the global divers "all-stars" and the Thai divers "five of our best".

But with some of them unable to swim and having no scuba experience, Narongsak had previously dubbed the rescue effort "Mission Impossible".

Two of them have been taken by ambulance to hospital while another two were airlifted, but none of them were stretchered out.

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Divers are guiding the 12 boys and their coach through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.

Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the caves, much of which they can wade through.

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", Chiang Rai Acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said Saturday.

Narongsak said he didn't know when the team would be able to rescue the rest of the boys but he estimated at least 10 hours and no more than 20.

The boys and their coach went missing after the team ended a workout on June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days. This week, a former Thai navy diver died during one of the rescue missions. "Our mission is more successful than we've hoped for".

"Today is a D-Day for our operation", Narongsak said.

"They are all of our students, all of our friends, all of our children", she said.

Rescuing them all could take three to four days and depended on the weather, an army commander involved in the mission said.

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