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4 boys rescued from Thailand cave; 12 boys, coach still trapped
09 July 2018, 06:18 | Devin Moran
Rescue operation begins for 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand
A rescue mission has begun to evacuate a youth football team and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand, where they have been trapped for two weeks.
Their escape led to an explosion of jubilation on social media in Thailand and around the world as the rescued boys were rushed to hospital. An entire floor of the 14-story hospital has been reserved for treating the soccer team, according to local media reports.
The quick extraction came as a surprise after one of the operation commanders said on Sunday morning the rescue efforts could take several days to complete.
While the governor would not confirm the identities of the four boys, he said the first one emerged at 5:40pm local time, followed by the second boy 10 minutes later.
Army General Chalonhchai Chaiyakam said the efforts to rescue all 12 boys and their coach could last two to four days, depending on water levels and weather conditions. 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.
The cave system, in a limestone mountain range bordering Myanmar in northern Thailand, has proven to be a formidable challenge for the worldwide rescue coalition drawing some of the world's best divers who have volunteered to help in the operation alongside Thai Navy SEALs.
The Thai defence ministry said a team from a Musk firm with drilling and exploration know-how should reach the cave on Sunday.
Sources told the Bangkok Post that one of the first two boys rescued in 13-year-old Mongkol Boonpiem.
Food, water, electrolyte drinks, medicine and oxygen were also delivered to the trapped group.
They have been stuck in the cave since June 23 after heavy rains flooded the Tham Luang Nan Non caves in Chiang Rai, a popular tourist attraction in the region. "We have tried all possible ways to get the boys out, but sometimes we can't win over nature".
Dive tanks are needed on the journey in and out - the average tank holds about 2200 litres of air, and a skilled diver uses between 15-20 litres per minute near the surface, with that amount increasingly rapidly at depth.
Officials have not yet released the names of the two footballers who military sources say have exited the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai.
Thai authorities have confirmed that four members of the football team that was left stranded in a cave have now been rescued.
Rescue operation paused for 10 hours as teams prepare.
An Australian doctor, a diving expert, gave the final approval on the health of the boys - clearing the way for the rescue.
But the head of the mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, yesterday suggested they would try in the coming days, even though the boys were weak and had no previous diving experience.
Those conditions won't last if the rain resumes, he said. "You don't need to be anxious about me". I'm happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care.
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