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8 Jul 2018

News In Pictures: 2 boys rescued from Thailand cave as divers work to retrieve others

Rescuers in Thailand have retrieved the first of the 12 boys who have been trapped with their soccer coach in a cave for two weeks.
The trapped kids
Two of the boys were extracted from the cave a couple of minutes apart, immediately placed into ambulances and rushed to a hospital, authorities told ABC News.

Authorities said at a press conference Sunday morning in Chiang Rai province that they made the decision to rescue the boys as oxygen drops and the threat of monsoon rains approaches. Due to the length of the journey out of the cave, officials said the first boy was expected to come out at 9 p.m. local time, which is 10 a.m. Sunday Eastern time. The officials said the operation could take two or three days.

At 10 a.m. local time, 13 foreign divers and five Thai SEALs entered the cave to begin the operation. Two divers will escort each of the kids out of the cave.
PHOTO: Thai rescue teams arrange a water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand in this undated photo. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)
"We have a fraction of a second to help them come out," provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said.

It will take five hours for rescuers to reach the boys from the entrance of the cave, and six hours to bring back the boys, including an hour break time. Ten divers headed to chamber 9, where the boys are located, while the others will be located along the difficult route out of the cave system.

"They insist they are ready to come out," Narongsak said Sunday of the rescue team. "Family has already been notified."

The team of rescuers shared a photo on Facebook linking arms, with the message, "We, the Thai team and the international team, will bring the Wild Boars home," a reference to the soccer team's name.
Rescuers in Thailand posted a photo of Thai and international divers linking hands before embarking on the rescue mission to save 12 boys and their soccer coach stuck in a cave, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Royal Thai navy SEALs)
The most challenging part of the journey for the boys will be the first leg of the trip.

Once they make it to the third chamber, they will have one hour of rest. Then the rest of the journey will be on foot walking through muddy areas or floating in some areas.

"There are two obstacles, which are water and time," Narongsak said. "We have tried all possible ways to get the boys out, but sometimes we can’t win over nature."

Water levels were down 30 percent, an official said at the press conference -- the lowest it's been since the boys were located.
Stretchers are lined up at Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in anticipation of the boys' removal. It is unclear how soon that will happen, however. (ABC News)
The officials also said they had ruled out the potential for drilling into the cave from above.

The boys are well aware of the mission involved, and the parents also understand what's at stake, according to Narongsak.

"Experts’ assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be," said Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander. "If we don't do it today we will lose our opportunity."

Seasonal monsoon rains forecast to hit the region this weekend and throughout next week have yet to occur, and efforts on the ground to remove floodwater and divert water flows have been "very successful," Osatanakorn said Saturday. Rescuers can now walk, rather than swim or dive, from the cave's main entrance to an inner chamber serving as a command center.

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