Four boys rescued from Thailand cave; eight delayed 10-20 hours

Cheryl Sanders
July 9, 2018

On Saturday, a doctor examined the boys and said they were in good health. However, there has been no official word on this so far.

Foreign elite divers and Thai Navy SEALS began the complex operation to extract the 12 boys and their football coach on Sunday morning as they raced against time, with imminent monsoon rains threatening more flooding that would doom the mission.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave to celebrate a birthday.

As of last night, even the parents of the boys had not been told who had been rescued, one mother told our reporter Michael Safi. 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.

Eighteen divers - 13 global and five Thai - entered the cave around 10 a.m. local time Sunday.

Chiang Rai's deputy governor said authorities prefer the diving option.

Trapped for two weeks: A massive rescue operation was launched after the boys, ages 11-16, and their coach went missing on June 23.

"We will still maintain our planned mission and the two main obstacles are time and water", a spokesperson said.

The boys and their coach, whose team is known as the Wild Boars, became stranded when they were exploring the cave after a practice game on June 23.

Three ambulances carried the boys to safety, CNN reported.

Rescuers have been desperately pumping water out of the cave, and Mr Narongsak said on Sunday that water levels inside were at their lowest levels so far.

The announcement of USA government involvement was sudden and this tweet is looked at as Trump's first public comment on the rescue mission. Water from heavy rains have flooded the cave, leaving the team trapped inside.

A second group made up of the others had also begun the journey from the chamber where they had been trapped, a rescue worker told AFP.

The third teenager rescued from the cave was said to need immediate medical attention, and instead of being taken by ambulance he was airlifted to hospital straight from the cave mouth.

"The operation went much better than expected", said Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is overseeing the mission.

One of the primary concerns will be the boys' exposure to a lack of oxygen, said Dr. Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee.

"They are ready in every way", he said. "Very courageous and talented people!"

On Saturday morning, the Thai Navy posted photos of letters the group had written to their family and the outside world.

Dive tanks are needed on the journey in and out - the average tank holds about 2200 litres of air, and a skilled diver uses between 15-20 litres per minute near the surface, with that amount increasingly rapidly at depth. "I had been anxious about my son, that he would be exhausted, he would be tired", he said. Saman Gunan, a former Navy SEAL, ran out of air and drowned on his swim back out of the cave.

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