Thailand cave rescue operation underway to save 12 boys and their soccer coach
An operation to rescue the boys and their coach trapped in Tham Luang Cave is underway. 13 divers and five Thai Navy Seals are sent into the cave to extract the 12 youth soccer players and their 25-year-old coach that have been trapped inside for two weeks.
Thai officials say it could take three to four days to get all 12 boys and their soccer coach out of the flooded cave.
Unconfirmed reports state four of the boys have already begun their journey out.
Thai authorities earlier announced the closure of the media camp and the evacuation of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave area has occurred so that the operation to save the group can begin.
“Today is the peak of our readiness,” said Narongsak Osottanakorn, a former provincial governor who is leading the rescue efforts. “This is D-Day. Their hearts are strong and determined. The boys are ready to face any challenges.”
At 10am local time, 18 divers entered the cave – 13 international divers and 5 Thai divers.
When the search began, most of the passages inside the cave were underwater. Much of the route to the location where the boys and their coach were found last Monday has been drained.
The governor has said the 13 are ‘really healthy’ and it had been judged safe to give them all diving equipment and assist them out through the cave system – including at least one area which remains completely submerged.
But Narongsak said experts had warned him flooding from new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters.
“I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today,” he said.