Four Thai schoolboys rescued from flooded cave

Thailand cave rescue: First boys rescued from trapped soccer team

Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks.

Narongsak Osottanakorn, the Chiang Rai governor and head of the rescue mission, said that "today, everything was smooth". The rescued children were taken to the hospital, and officials said early Monday that they are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach after football practice on June 23, setting out on an adventure to explore the cave complex, reportedly for a picnic to celebrate one of their birthdays, before being trapped by rising waters from bursts of monsoon rain. Multiple calls to senior government officials and military personnel leading the rescue operation rang unanswered Monday evening.

The group of 12 boys has been trapped inside a cave in northern Thailand for two weeks.

While the governor would not confirm the identities of the four boys, he said the first one emerged at 5:40 p.m. local time (6.40 a.m. ET), followed by the second boy 10 minutes later.

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The first of 13 members of a youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand have been rescued and four boys were evacuated from the cave Sunday, according to Chiang Rai provincial acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn.

It is still not clear how the boys will be rescued.

The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight.

Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave. But authorities became anxious in recent days as oxygen levels inside the cave dropped due to a high presence of rescue workers.

The next operation will begin in 10 to 20 hours and will involve 90 divers, he said.

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"I mean, we're a big country and Thailand is a small country".

He says the divers went in at 10 a.m. and the boys will gradually come out accompanied by two divers each. Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.

Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the team's coach, after four boys were rescued on Sunday, the first day of the rescue operation.

Making the announcement over a loudspeaker, a police spokesman said: "Everyone who is not involved with the operations has to get out of the area immediately".

Mild weather and a break in the rain had lowered the water to the lowest levels since the boys were found.

Rescuers prepare to move rest of boys, coach from Thai cave
Thailand officials have not released the names of the boys rescued, so as not to upset the parents of any child still trapped. The rescue operation was started on Sunday as more rain is expected this week, which would make it harder to rescue the boys.


Rescue teams had installed a static rope along the dive path, giving the boys a guide, and experienced divers were reportedly positioned at various points along the way for assistance. The team is huddled in an enclosed area of the cave, in which oxygen levels are falling, and the incoming rain could end up shrinking the unflooded space to around 100 square feet.

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