PV International Desk : Thai navy SEALs say rescuers have taken four members of a youth soccer team out of the cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, part of an operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach.
The operation to rescue the boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach by having them dive out of the flooded cave began Sunday morning, with expert divers entering the sprawling complex for the complicated and dangerous mission.
Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and that two divers would accompany each boy as they’re gradually extracted.
The operation began at 10 a.m. Shortly before 8 p.m., the SEALs reported on their official Facebook page that four had been rescued.
Two ambulances have left from a cave in northern Thailand, hours after an operation began to rescue 12 youth soccer players and their coach.
The ambulances were seen Sunday evening, but it was unclear who was inside them.
Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said earlier Sunday that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they’re gradually extracted. He said the operation began at 10 a.m., and it will take at least 11 hours for the first person to be taken out of the cave.
The boys and their coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.
Thai authorities say it is unknown when the first group of boys trapped in a flooded cave will begin their dive out of the cave, the key part of a rescue operation underway.
In a statement released late Sunday afternoon, Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn says “divers will work with medics in the cave to assess the boys’ health before determining who will come out first.”
He added: “They cannot decide how many of them will be able to come out for the first operation. Based on the complexity and difficulty of the cave environment it is unknown how long it might take and how many children would exit the cave.”
The rescue operation began at 10 a.m. Sunday when expert divers entered the cave. Trips from the entrance to where the team is trapped and back to the entrance take about 11 hours.
The Thai navy SEALs, who have been spearheading the rescue effort for the 12 boys and their soccer coach, have posted a photo on their Facebook page with a vow to bring the trapped team home from a flooded cave.
The unit says in a message: “We, the Thai team and the international team, will bring the Wild Boars home.” That’s the name of the young boys’ team.
The risky diving operation to bring them out has started and the first boy is expected to be out of the cave around 9 p.m. Sunday (10 a.m. ET) at the earliest. Rescuers say it may take 2-4 days for the entire team to reach safety, depending on conditions inside the cave.
The local governor in charge of the rescue says the mission was launched Sunday morning because floodwaters inside the cave are at their lowest level in days and rains forecast to hit the region risk flooding the cave again.
A Thai army commander says the ongoing rescue of 12 boys and their coach could take 2-4 days depending on conditions inside the partially flooded cave.