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Thai cave rescue: How a casual expedition turned into a nightmare

09 July, 2018, 01:48 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Rescue personnel arrive as rescue operations continue for 12 boys and their coach trapped at Tham Luang cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province

"Today is D-Day", Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters before the team went in the cave.

The Thai official in charge of the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach says they're physically ready and mentally determined for their extraction now underway from a partially flooded cave.

Monsoon flooding had initially cut off their escape, and rescuers were unable to find them for more than a week.

"Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the rescue, said Sunday morning was the most opportune time to launch the operation, citing the ideal weather, water and the kids' readiness, physical and mental".

The entire operation to rescue all 13 could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj.

In one, Pheerapat, nicknamed "Night", whose 16th birthday the group were celebrating in the cave when they became stuck on 23 June, said: "I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister".

She said rescuers have not been giving away how optimistic or pessimistic they are. but "it was clear they were tense". But the rescue mission may take two or three days before all of the stranded children are saved.

It is unclear exactly how the boys will be moved but it appears that the journey will include some diving and walking in areas where the water level permits.

She said members of the 353rd U.S. Special Operations Group and U.S. military pararescue teams, survival specialists, divers and medical personnel are on the ground in support of the Thai-led worldwide rescue effort. Narongsak said the four were then taken to a hospital.

Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave receive treatment from a medic in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal. A former Thai navy SEAL died making the dive on Friday. The first group could be out of the cave by 9:00 pm local time (2:00 pm GMT) on Sunday.

Divers were assigned at 10 a.m. local time, and the rescue will start as soon as possible, officials said. It was not immediately known if a USA diver was among them.

The members of the Wild Boar soccer team were found weak but alive on Monday, nine days after they disappeared into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave network in Chiang Rai province. Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy downpour. Incoming monsoon rains could once again flood the cave and deplete oxygen levels.

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