Rescue efforts for boys trapped in Thai cave begin

Credit PA

Credit PA

According to a report in NDTV, there is a possibility that the heavy rainfall can flood the cave complex in mountainous northern Thailand, which has been also emerged as one of the enemies during the rescue operation.

CHIANG RAI, Thailand - Four of 12 schoolboys have been rescued so far from a flooded Thai cave after divers launched a daring and unsafe mission to free the children and their soccer coach, who were trapped underground for more than two weeks, Thai officials said.

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

Officials had said earlier that helicopters were on standby to take anyone rescued from the cave to a hospital.

For now, the rescue operation is scheduled to resume on Monday, although it remains uncertain whether or not that will be possible.

The team has been trapped in the cave for two weeks. However, it only took 7 hours and 40 minutes. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and risky plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.

The group was found dishevelled and hungry by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in.

However, efforts to extract the remaining boys who are trapped in a flooded Thai cave have been paused for at least 10 hours, the operation commander told reporters after six were rescued.

Footage released by authorities showed groups of soldiers carrying what appeared to be two of the boys on stretchers into the back of waiting ambulances which then sped off for a nearby hospital.

Sunday's mission involved 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs.

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Four boys of 13 trapped in a northern Thailand cave have been brought out through an underwater evacuation, a member of the rescue team said on condition of anonymity Sunday.

"The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it", a 25-year-old Thai Navy Seal told Reuters before the rescue attempt.

Narongsak said Sunday morning two divers would escort each of the boys out of the cave.

He also says the families of the boys have been informed about the risky mission. Osattanakorn would not confirm the identities of the boys, but it has been reported that the weakest boys were taken first.

A relative of one of the 12 boys, speaking to Kyodo News, compared Sunday's rescue to a miracle, adding that she wishes to see the remaining boys and coach get out soon.

The daring rescue mission began early Sunday morning more than 2 weeks after the team became trapped in the cave.

Cave rescue experts have said they consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

Narongsak earlier cited favorable factors for successful rescue, including the fact that water levels in the cave remain stable amid the current break in the weather, even as the monsoon season looms.

Once the lucky quartet were taken from the caves on Sunday, it began raining again making time of the essence.

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