Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

09 July, 2018, 03:47 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Former navy diver dies during Thailand cave rescue effort

Thai navy SEALs say four soccer team members have been taken out of the cave. However, there has been no official word on this so far.

Rescue teams in Thailand began the first stage of an operation to save a youth soccer team from a flooded underground cave, with four of the twelve boys successfully rescued.

At 10am local time, 18 divers went into the cave to bring out the boys - including 13 worldwide divers and five Thai Navy Seals.

Their plight transfixed Thailand and the rest of the world, as authorities struggled to devise a plan to get the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - and their 25-year-old coach out.

Complicated rescue: Local government officials said 13 foreign and five Thai divers are taking part in the long and risky operation to free the 12 young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach.

But Narongsak said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation.

The mission to free the remaining members of the group has been suspended for at least 10 hours, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said, as teams replenish supplies used up removing the first four boys.

Two other boys emerged from the cave at 7:40pm and 7:50pm local time.

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Two ambulances were seen leaving the cave in northern Thailand hours after the operation began to rescue the trapped young soccer players.

Two more boys were pulled from the cave a short time later from where they had been marooned by floodwaters more than two miles from the cave entrance, the Thai Navy SEAL official Facebook page said.

Narongsak said that conditions inside the cave were the best they could hope for and that water levels were now so low after days of good weather and constant draining that long stretches of the passage were now walk-able.

The boys and their coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Outside the cave, the mother of one of the boys said she was "glad" for a glimpse of her son.

"There are two obstacles, which are water and time", Narongsak said. The pause will give divers time to prepare gear, including masks and refilling air tanks, for the next round of rescue efforts.

"The operation today went quicker than when we rehearsed, 10 minutes quicker", he said, according to CNN.

The boys, accompanied by two divers each, will be brought out one-by-one. Rescue crews found them deep inside the cave on July 2. In total, the mission could last several days, he also said, though the team of global divers on the site are apparently feeling "buoyed" by the success of the operation so far.

Up on the hill, where rescuers are seeking alternative routes down into the cave, another accident occurred when a vehicle skidded off a dirt track, seriously injuring several people, authorities said.

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