'Today is D-Day': Rescuers begin mission to extract Thai cave boys

Posted July 09, 2018

Chiang Rai provincial acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the rescue operation, said divers will need about 10 hours to prepare for the next phase of rescue, but that the operation was going "better than expected".

The boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were found by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in, dishevelled and hungry, on a ledge several kilometres inside the cave.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is in charge of the rescue mission, said Saturday conditions were now "perfect", BBC News reports.

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But the governor supervising the mission said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won't last if it rains again. They had been missing for 10 days before they were discovered.

Sunday night divers escorted the four children, who were wearing equipment to help them breathe.

Following a relatively dry spell, fresh torrential downpours could pose a setback to rescuers who have struggled to drain the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai. Shortly after nightfall, local time, Thai navy SEALs reported on Facebook that the four were rescued.

Retrieving the boys from the muddy bank on which they took refuge requires a almost 11-hour round trip through 4 km of winding, submerged pathways, tunnels and fast-flowing, freezing water.

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The first two boys have been rescued from the flooded cave and are now in a hospital near the cave.

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. Even as the world prays, Thai authorities are taking measures to keep them alive. "The teams here are happy the boys are being rescued but also anxious about the severity of the boys' conditions". "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission". It was not immediately known if a USA diver was among them.

The expedition started normally but things took a wrong turn when the group reportedly got stranded in the dark tunnels by a sudden inflow of water into the caves from the heavy rain.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone".

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