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Thai cave rescue – first four boys saved pictured as eight teammates and coach forced to wait another day


THESE are the four boys rescued from a flooded Thai cave this afternoon – but their coach and eight teammates will remain underground until tomorrow.

A high risk rescue mission saw a dream team of 13 international cave divers and five Thai Navy SEALs go in for 12 boys and their coach in the morning.

 Nattawut Thakansai, 14
Nattawut Thakansai, 14
 Prajak Sutham, 14
Prajak Sutham, 14
 Pipat Bodhi, 15
Pipat Bodhi, 15
 Mongkhol Boonpiam, 14

PA

Mongkhol Boonpiam, 14
 One of the boys is stretchered to a rescue chopper after they were saved by elite divers
One of the boys is stretchered to a rescue chopper after they were saved by elite divers
Ambulance arrives at hospital as first two of Thai soccer team rescued from ​the Chiang Rai​ cave​ system​

The four lucky lads were guided out by two scuba divers each wearing full face breathing masks.
They were named in local media reports as Monhkhol Boonpiam, 13, Prachak Sutham, 14, Natthawut Thakhamsai, 14, and Phipat Phothi, 15.

Three were airlifted to Prachanukroh Hospital in provincial capital a Chiang Rai yesterday evening while another was driven in hospital.


WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

  • Four of the boys have been rescued from the caves in Chiang Rai province
  • Remaining eight lads and their coach to be rescued from 1am local time tomorrow
  • Pictures show the rescued boys taken on stretchers to choppers outside caves
  • Operation ahead of schedule due to the walkable water level in the cave network
  • Rescued boys swam through 1km of murky water with the help of two elite divers

Thai Navy SEALs posted after the successful first leg of the operation: “Tonight we can sleep well.”

The operation to save the other eight boys and their 25-year-old coach is expected to resume on Monday

 Paramedics carry one of the rescued lads on a stretcher
Paramedics carry one of the rescued lads on a stretcher
 The boys are evacuated to an air ambulance which will fly them to a nearby hospital for further treatment
The boys are evacuated to an air ambulance which will fly them to a nearby hospital for further treatment
 Onlookers smile as the boys are rescued after 15 gruelling days in the caves

Getty Images – Getty

Onlookers smile as the boys are rescued after 15 gruelling days in the caves

After the four were pulled to safety, rescue efforts in the Chang Hai province were stopped because divers used all of their oxygen tanks.

They had been working for hours, during a gruelling operation that began just after 10 am local time and finished just before 7.45pm.

The operation to save the other eight boys and their 25-year-old coach is expected to resume on Monday morning.

It is hoped that by Tuesday all members of the Wild Boars will be back to safety.

 Thai military personnel smile after working hard to help save the stricken lads

Getty Images – Getty

Thai military personnel smile after working hard to help save the stricken lads
 A convoy of ambulances rush the young lads to hospital

EPA

A convoy of ambulances rush the young lads to hospital
 Divers have rescued four of the Thai schoolboys trapped in a cave
Divers have rescued four of the Thai schoolboys trapped in a cave

The players – aged 11 to 16 – have been trapped in Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district for 15 days.

Officials made a move to get them out after rain set in – with monsoon downpours forecast for the coming days.

Governor of northern Chiang Rai province Narongsak Osottanakorn said rescuers were in a “war against water”.

He said: “The fear was that if we didn’t move now the rain would gush down the mountain and fill the cave leaving the boys in an even worse situation than there in in the first place.

 Medical teams wait anxiously outside the caves to help the stricken young boys

Getty Images – Getty

Medical teams wait anxiously outside the caves to help the stricken young boys
 Helicopter for each member of the squad are on standby alongside medical teams at the caves

Reuters

Helicopter for each member of the squad are on standby alongside medical teams at the caves

“The divers are all international all-stars and we selected five our best to help them.”

Australian doctor Richard Harris checked the boys on Saturday and gave them the all clear before they were evacuated.

Reporters and camera crews were moved away from the area around the cave early yesterday morning.

Parents of the kids had to sign a waiver agreeing to let their kids be rescued.

 The mission to rescue the Thai children trapped in a cave has begun

EPA

The mission to rescue the Thai children trapped in a cave has begun

On Friday a former Thai Navy SEAL diver died while taking part in the mission.

The effort to free the boys from the cave has attracted experts from all over the world including the USA, Europe, Australia, China and Japan.

US president Donald Trump tweeted: “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!”

Before the rescues began, billionaire Elon Musk had his engineers from his SpaceX working on a “tiny, kid-size submarine” constructed out of parts from a Falcon 9 rocket.

 A Thai Navy Seal prepares for the mission

AP:Associated Press

A Thai Navy Seal prepares for the mission

The remaining nine-strong party will endure another long wait in the dark and dank caves before rescuers can bring them home.

The first four were saved by elite divers just after 1pm UK time.

Each rescued boy has made the arduous journey through the murky water of the cave network with the help of two elite divers.

It is thought the lads swam through 1km of water, and walked through other sections of the tunnels, as they finally returned home after 15 gruelling days.

 The rescue team has entered the cave complex, which is flooded with water

AFP or licensors

The rescue team has entered the cave complex, which is flooded with water

The boys received treatment at a field hospital, next to the mouth of the cave network, before being taken to a nearby facility for further treatment in Chang Rai.

After the first two boys were saved today, Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai’s health department, said: “Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave.

“We are giving them a physical examination.”

Thirteen separate medical teams are on site – each with a helicopter and ambulance – to offer emergency treatment to each boy and their coach.

 A rescue worker washes his hands in water pumped out of the cave

Getty Images – Getty

A rescue worker washes his hands in water pumped out of the cave

The rescue crews searching for their friends comprises of 13 foreign divers, including seven Brits, and five Thai, who entered the cave at 10am local time today.

To escape, the boys must swim through dark, narrow passageways sometimes no more than two feet wide, that have challenged some of the world’s leading cave divers.

A rope system has been put in place to help the boys over difficult ground.

Osottanakorn told reporters: “Today is the D-day. The boys are ready to face any challenges.”

He added that conditions were currently “perfect” but there are fears monsoon rains and further flooding could follow.

 Thai soldiers carry a pump to the cave as rescuers try to keep the water levels low

Reuters

Thai soldiers carry a pump to the cave as rescuers try to keep the water levels low
Footage of Saman Kunan, Thai cave volunteer who died trying to save trapped schoolboys, preparing to fly out to join rescue mission

Osottanakorn said: “Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are perfect [for evacuation] in terms of the water, the weather and the boys’ health.”

Authorities have said it takes roughly 11 hours to do a round-trip from the cave entrance to where the boys are huddled on a muddy bank.

While they waited to be saved last week, the trapped boys sent tear-jerking letters to their parents pleading with them not to worry.

Delivered by divers on Friday, the notes told their families that they were being well looked after.

Experienced Brit rescue diver Tim Acton is helping the Thai Navy rescue the lads.

His proud Dad John said: “We are not surprised that Tim was asked – or that he volunteered to help without a second thought.

“Tim has always looked for a challenge and wanted to help.”

One of the youngsters even joked about not forgetting his birthday and called the Thai Navy Seals looking after them their “brothers”.

 The boys sent letters to their families telling them not to worry - as their coach apologised

Reuters

The boys sent letters to their families telling them not to worry – as their coach apologised
 The lads' coach apologised to parents. The note reads: 'The children said don't worry about them. They are all strong.'

Reuters

The lads’ coach apologised to parents. The note reads: ‘The children said don’t worry about them. They are all strong.’
 More than 100 shafts are being drilled by workers into the rock to try to reach the boys from above

AFP or licensors

More than 100 shafts are being drilled by workers into the rock to try to reach the boys from above
 Oxygen is being pumped into the cave amid fears the air could run out

Getty Images – Getty

Oxygen is being pumped into the cave amid fears the air could run out

In the collective letter from all 12 children they say they want to go “straight home”.

One lad, Sompong Jaiwong, 13, wrote: “Don’t worry about me. I am safe now. I love you.”

Panumas Saengdee, 13, wrote: “I miss everyone. I miss grandpa, auntie, mum, dad and all my brothers and sisters.”

And Duangphet Promthep, also 13, wrote: “I am good but it’s a little bit cold here. Don’t worry about me. And don’t forget to organise a birthday party for me.”

It comes as the coach who organised the ill fated trip has apologised to the boy’s parents.

Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year-old coach of the Wild Boars football team, wrote: “To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care.

“I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologise to the parents.”

 Media are camped outside the mouth of the cave as frantic rescue efforts continue

AFP or licensors

Media are camped outside the mouth of the cave as frantic rescue efforts continue
 A worried relative of one of the boys speaks on the phone today

AFP or licensors

A worried relative of one of the boys speaks on the phone today

Rescuers drilled more than 100 shafts through mountain rock as they desperately tried to reach the trapped footballers.

However, sadly the mission has already claimed one life.

Former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, 37, died after running out of oxygen as he returned from delivering air tanks to the flooded cave.

The boys, 11 to 16, and their coach went exploring in the cave after a football match on June 23.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.







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