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'D-Day': dangerous mission underway to save Thai boys trapped in cave

09 July 2018

Narongsak Osottanakorn, acting governor of Chiang Rai province, said in a press conference that two divers would accompany each boy as they're gradually extracted.

Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than a fortnight were rescued on Sunday, authorities said, raising hopes elite divers would also quickly save the others.

The boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were found by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in, dishevelled and hungry, on a ledge several kilometres inside the cave.

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"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are ideal [for evacuation] in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health", Narongsak in a press conference on Sunday. They had been missing for 10 days before they were discovered. Vraprach Kraitrik's former classmates are among the 12 boys of the Mae Sai Prasitsart School, which is located near the Thailand-Myanmar border, awaiting rescue from the network of Tham Luang Nang Non caves in northern Thailand where they have been located. The two have been airlifted to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai for medical treatment, 43 miles (70 kilometers) from the rescue site. They posted that "the 4th Wild Boar is out of the cave" and was rescued at 7:47 p.m. local time.

If efforts over the next few days fail, authorities have not ruled out laying an oxygen line and leaving the boys inside the cave for months until monsoon rains clear.

This means there are still eight boys to go, as well as their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong.

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The boys' conditions were "not that bad" and "they're OK", according to Eve Tapanya from the Tourist Police.

Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out.

Thai rescuers are being assisted by an worldwide team comprising experts from China, Australia, the USA and Britain.

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"This is probably some of the most hard diving there is" in the rescue operation, she said, "and this is the rainy season" with constant fears of more flooding and perilous currents. Efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by rains. One boy's note said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry".

'D-Day': dangerous mission underway to save Thai boys trapped in cave