Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Thai Cave Rescue Mission Stretches Into 2nd Day As More Boys Freed

Anna Jefferson | 10 July, 2018, 09:31

The general leading the huge worldwide effort to rescue the young footballers and their coach thanked the god of rain for his forbearance, as the boys were guided out of the Tham Luang caves in full-face masks - easier than traditional respirators for novice divers to use - during an intense nine-hour operation.

In an atmosphere of growing confidence, close to jubilation, the rescuers said that, having rescued eight boys, they expected to bring out the final four boys later today.

The worldwide effort to save the group has paired divers in "buddy teams" with the remaining eight boys and their coach.

The search and rescue operation has riveted people in Thailand and internationally, with journalists from across the globe traveling to this town along the border with Myanmar to report on the ordeal.

"One of the things we have learned from previous research is that how young people are before they undergo an extreme experience like this is often a reasonably good predictor of how they will do later on after the event".

The first four rescued boys have been placed in a ward set aside specifically for the cave rescue operation after being rushed from the cave by military helicopter, a source at the hospital said.

Four fellow teammates and their coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, remain inside, with hopes that they will be rescued on Tuesday.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs guided the boys during a nine-hour operation through almost 4 km (2.5 miles) of sometimes submerged channels from where they have been trapped for more than a fortnight.

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After a perilous journey to safety through the depths of the Tham Luang caves, the rescued members of the Thai boys football team will have to wait before sharing a hug with their loved ones.

Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally "healthy and smiling", he said.

1 NEWS' Kimberlee Downs has the latest from Chiang Rai. Authorities have said the mission could take up to four days to complete and heavy rain is forecast in the coming days.

The team's 25-year-old coach and four boys are still deep inside the flooded and sprawling cave. He said it was out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped in the cave.

"The divers that were assembled from many countries are proud to have conducted this operation until its success", Narongsak said.

Two elite British divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, were the first rescuers to reach the group and are believed to be part of the team.

The British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) confirmed that seven divers from the United Kingdom with "expertise in cave diving" are assisting. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place air canisters along the passage to where the boys are, necessary for divers to safely travel the five- to six-hour route. More worrying, however, oxygen levels in the cave were falling.

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