Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Rescue mission to save boys trapped in Thailand cave underway

Rescue mission to save boys trapped in Thailand cave underway

The operation to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand has begun, Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said Sunday morning.

The outgoing Chiang Rai province Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn in charge of rescue operation called the worldwide divers "all-stars" and the Thai divers "five of our best".

The local governor supervising the rescue mission said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created appropriate conditions for an underwater evacuation, but that they won't last if it rains again.

Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can not yet take the spicy dishes favoured by many Thais.

To escape, the boys must dive through dark, narrow passageways sometimes no more than two feet (0.6 metre) wide, that have challenged some of the world's leading cave divers.

The boys aged 11-16 from the Wild Boars team, and their 25-year-old coach were stuck in the flooded cave at Tham Luang Nang Non in Chiang Rai province since June 23.

"Assessing the situation now, it is necessary to evacuate the area for the rescue operation", said Mae Sai police commander Komsan Sa-ardluan over a loudspeaker.

For the first time since they were found, the boys communicated by letter with their relatives - many camped outside the cave's entrance - with both homesickness and humor.

Cave rescue specialists have cautioned against that approach except as a last resort, because of the dangers posed by inexperienced people using diving gear.

Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters they have discussed different plans for various scenarios, including those suggested by foreign cave diving experts, to assess their feasibility.

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Earlier at the sprawling cave mouth, lines of frogmen and soldiers with flashlights could be seen emerging from the darkness, as generators chugged and pumped water out through plastic pipes.

Earlier, Mr Musk said he was sending engineers from his Boring Company - which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems - and SpaceX to Thailand "to see if they can be helpful".

"The water level has reached the lowest it has been in ten days".

Musk had tweeted after a Twitter user pleaded him to help the 12 boys and their coach.

"We expect that if there is no unusual condition ... the four boys, one coach, the doctor, and three Seals who have been with the boys since the first day will come out today", he told a news conference to loud cheering. One diver has already died during the rescue operation. If the tests were successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

"Don't worry, I'm fine".

One particularly touching note from another boy said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry. Don't forget to throw my birthday party!" I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible.

"Don't worry that I am missing for two weeks, I will help you at the shop soon", another one told his parents.

"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologize to the parents". Shortly before 8pm (2pm BST) Thai Navy Seals reported on their official Facebook page that the four had been rescued.

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