Thai cave rescue: Good conditions for extracting trapped boys, soccer coach

Thai cave rescue: Good conditions for extracting trapped boys, soccer coach

Thai authorities told media today to leave a camp site near the cave where 12 boys and their coach have been trapped for more than two weeks so that "victims" could be helped, possibly signalling a long-awaited rescue effort to get them out.

Four boys have been confirmed rescued from the cave in northern Thailand where they have been trapped for two weeks.

Chiang Rai provincial acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the rescue operation, said divers will need about 10 hours to prepare for the next phase of rescue, but that the operation was going "better than expected".

In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Saturday, July 7, 2018, Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. Officials have said that conditions are as ideal as they can be for the rescue attempt, factoring in the weather and water and oxygen levels in the cave, as well as the boys' health.

The boys and their coach had been stranded in Tham Luang Nang Non when they went exploring in the cave after a scrimmage June 23. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old.

A mammoth response operation including a medical unit, ambulance and helicopter for every boy is waiting outside the cave for the team to emerge.

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The next phase of the operation would start Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route to ensure the safety of the journey, which takes several hours. In total, the mission could last several days, he also said, though the team of worldwide divers on the site are apparently feeling "buoyed" by the success of the operation so far.

Thailand is holding its breath for the safe return of the group, with heavy rains forecast and fears mounting over the falling amount of oxygen and high level of water in the cave. The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.

But early on Sunday, journalists were told they had to move down the road, sparking speculation that a rescue mission was about to begin.

But the government has been pumping water from the caves, and a good weather day combined with relatively lower waters made the authorities put their plan in motion.

More than 100 exploratory holes had also been 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 a risky dive through submerged tunnels. Efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by rains.

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