Military helicopter believed to be carrying two of the Thai students

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2018

Six boys have exited a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they have been trapped for more than two weeks, a senior member of rescue operation's medical team said on Sunday.

The the next phase in the rescue operation is set for around 1-2pm (NZT) today at the earliest, involving a further three trapped boys, but an update from an Australian reporter at the scene says a downpour in Thailand today is creating concerns. The other eight players - and their coach - will remain underground and be rescued tomorrow, the state-funded news agency said.

"The boys are physically and mentally fit to come out".

On Tuesday, ABC News confirmed that all 12 boys and their coach had been rescued after an global team of rescuers worked diligently to extricate the youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

On Sunday, Musk tweeted a series of videos showing a team of divers testing the pod in the swimming pool at Palisades Charter High School.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach belong to a local team called Moo Pa (Wild Boars) Academy.

The first four boys who were trapped in the cave in Thailand have been rescued and are in "perfect" health.

Global rescue teams from the U.S., China, Australia and Europe are stationed along tunnel walls from the entrance of the cave to chamber 3, a safe command center inside the cave, to support the extraction.

But the success of the initial evacuation raised hopes that all will be out soon, although officials said could it take up to four days to complete.

They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank. "We can't visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours", Somboon told Reuters.

Thai Navy SEALS and dozens of volunteer rescue workers have worked around the clock funnelling food and oxygen into the cave and trying to train the soccer team and their coach to dive with heavy scuba gear on their backs. He also pointed out that "runoff from rainfall around the cave area will likely be higher, raising the risk of rain entering the cave, raising water levels and increasing the flood threat".

"Experts' assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be", Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander, said. "Otherwise we will lose the opportunity". Young athletes were in the cave since June 23. Ropes were installed to help guide the boys through the darkness.

Earlier Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that the USA government is working with Thailand's government in the rescue operation. Most of the boys don't swim. 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.

More than 100 exploratory holes were also bored - some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep - into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into the unsafe dive.

Engineers from SpaceX and The Boring Company are in Thailand assisting the government's rescue mission.

The other, and perhaps more worrying, was that oxygen levels in the complex were falling close to risky levels.

He said all the boys were in good condition. The most touching note came from one whose name was not clear: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry".

Other reports by iNewsToday