Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy rain
12 July, 2018, 06:37
A rescue mission has begun to evacuate a youth football team and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand, where they have been trapped for two weeks.
He also said the operation to extract the boys could take three to four days depending on the weather and the earliest the boys would emerge would be 9pm local time, which is about 2am NZT.
Thirteen fully staffed medical teams stand ready round the clock outside a cave in Thailand - each with its own helicopter and ambulance - one for each of 12 boys and their coach trapped inside as a daring rescue gathers pace. Each person will be accompanied by 2 divers to swim underwater as some sections are flooded.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice football game.
The rescue started at 10 am Thai time and involved 13 worldwide divers and five Thai navy seals, who were described by Governor Narongsak as "an all-star team", reports the Daily Mail.
Seven British divers are among a team of 18 who are undertaking the risky operation to free them after their ordeal that began on June 23 before floodwaters made the cave impassible.
Cave rescue specialists have cautioned against that approach except as a last resort, because of the dangers posed by inexperienced people using diving gear.
The acting Chiang Rai governor has told reporters "today is D-Day" with 13 foreigner and five Thai divers taking part in the rescue.
The rescue mission began after rainshowers soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai province for the past 24 hours, heightening the risks in what the governor has called a "war with water and time" to save the team.
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Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy rain.
"Continue to be amazed by the bravery, resilience and tenacity of the kids and diving team in Thailand", Musk later tweeted.
The next phase of the operation would start sometime Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.
But Thai officials, acutely aware that the boys could be trapped for months by monsoon rains that would swell waters in the cave system, seized a window of opportunity provided by relatively mild weather.
But they appear to have remained in good spirits, and the head of the rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn said Saturday that the boys' health was the "best yet" as were the conditions to spring them to safety. "Extremely robust", Musk tweeted, adding that it would take eight hours to construct and 17 hours to transport to Thailand.
The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. "Love you all", a boy whose nickname is Mick wrote with a pencil on a piece of paper.
One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine. Although, don't forget to set up my birthday party".
"I love you, mum, dad and brother". Shortly before 8pm (2pm BST) Thai Navy Seals reported on their official Facebook page that the four had been rescued.
"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologize to the parents".
Thailand's junta chief told reporters on Tuesday that the group had been given a "minor tranquiliser" to help calm their nerves. A Thai government official says all 12 boys and their coach are doing well after their rescue from the Tham Luang cave.
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