Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Rescue mission under way to free boys inside Thai cave

Rescue mission under way to free boys inside Thai cave

Officials worked to supply the 12 boys and their coach with oxygen through a 3 mile (5 kilometer) cable running through the cave's winding chambers on Friday.

Officials said the rescue could take three to four days to complete depending on the rainfall.

Two members of the trapped boys' soccer team have been rescued from a cave in northern Thailand, local officials say.

A Thai policeman guards an area under rainfall near the Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province, July 7, 2018.

Heavy rain and a lack of oxygen has made getting the boys out more urgent, and early this morning Thai Navy Seal divers safely traversed the 4km route with four of the boys - who are now recovering in hospital.

Authorities are racing against time to rescue the boys and the coach of the soccer team, who have been stranded in the cave for more than two weeks now.

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

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. A team of global rescuers and experts including the USA military team are involved in the operation.

On Saturday morning, the Thai navy posted photos of letters that the group had written to their families and the outside world. The boys had moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water.

The young soccer team and their coach have been trapped in the vast cave system since June 23, when monsoon rains flooded the cave while they were exploring inside.

Narongsak said efforts to remove floodwater and divert water flows have been "very successful", but seasonal monsoon rains are forecast to hit the region this weekend and throughout next week.

"I think Narongsak and the commanders changed their minds after the Australian doctor inspected the boys' health and mental state", one senior Thai journalist said.

The entire nation is glued to the media coverage of the rescue mission, and Thai authorities have insisted they will not compromise on the safety of the trapped group.

"We are anxious every day", she said.

Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out.

But she added she was "happy" at the prospect of seeing her son again. "He's thinner", she said, as she ran her finger over the image of her son on a television screen.

The Thai defence ministry said a team from a Musk firm with drilling and exploration know-how should reach the cave on Sunday. Another option would be to drill a hole into the cave and airlift the boys out.

At a press conference that took place after the four boys were freed, Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command center, said that he met the children.

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