Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Thailand cave rescue: First boys rescued from trapped soccer team

Thailand cave rescue: First boys rescued from trapped soccer team

Four Thai boys had been rescued last night from the flooded caves where they were trapped for more than two weeks.

The rescued boys are likely to stay in Chiang Rai hospital for 48 hours undergoing medical tests to check their health after they swam through dirty floodwaters to exit the cave. But a father of one of the boys told Reuters parents "can't visit our boys in hospital" and that "we have not been told which child has been brought out".

Between four to six boys have been rescued in the first phase of the operation to free the trapped soccer team, Thai officials told reporters.

Water levels have a massive effect on the difficulty of the rescue operation. On Sunday, divers rescued four, and plans were underway to go back in for a second rescue early Monday morning. The pause will give divers time to prepare gear, including masks and refilling air tanks, for the next round of rescue efforts.

Narongsak said ahead of the rescue dive that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation.

Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the unsafe mission to bring out the 12 boys and their coach earlier on Sunday.

He had also suggested the second rescue attempt would involve the same crack team of five Thai navy SEALs, along with 13 worldwide "all-star" divers.

They expected the process to take two or three days with two divers escorting each boy.

Kittichok Kankeaw, a teammate of Nattawut Takamsai, one of the trapped boys, said he would try to assist his friend to catch up at school.

Some took time on Sunday to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to ensure the boys had enough oxygen.

Eight boys and their coach are still to be rescued.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 per cent chance of rain with more thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.

The boys, who are aged between 11 and 16 years old, along with their 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong, went to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave after football practice, but did not return home that night. The rescue will resume today once they have been resupplied and examined by doctors.

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said in a TV interview on Monday morning she believed the boys would be brought out in groups of four.

This is a hugely high-profile rescue attempt and Thailand knows the world is watching.

Thousands of people including soldiers, navy and police have been mobilised for the operation to save 12 young footballers and their coach from the Moo Pa team - or "wild boar" in Thai.

In letters written by the boys released Saturday, the boys appeared calm and reassured their families they were "fine".

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine". I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken.

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