Thai cave rescue: Condition of one boy cause for concern

Jo Caldwell
July 9, 2018

Four of 12 Thai schoolboys were rescued from a flooded cave on Sunday in a daring and unsafe operation to save the children and their soccer coach who have been trapped underground for more than two weeks.

The world has watched and waited for days as rescue teams attempted to get the boys out of a cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

The rescue mission began after rain showers soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai province for the past 24 hours, heightening the risks in what the governor has called a "war with water and time" to save the team.

"I am still waiting here at the cave, keeping my fingers crossed to see whether my son will be one of those to come out today", Akkarat Wongsukjan, a mother of Pheerapat - known by his nickname "Night" - told AFP. Shortly after nightfall, local time, Thai navy SEALs reported on Facebook that the four were rescued.

"Experts' assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be", Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander said.

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As of Sunday, four boys were confirmed rescued from the cave, before the mission was paused, according to the BBC.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered the cave to celebrate a birthday. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old. Eight boys and their soccer coach remain in the cave. But Narongsak said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won't last if it rains again. The two have been airlifted to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai for medical treatment, 43 miles (70 kilometers) from the rescue site.

A girl shows a collage of pictures before relatives and friends begin prayers for the 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded cave, at Mesai Grace Church in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Mr Ekapol Chanthawong, his assistant, was to take the younger boys to a soccer field nestled by the Doi Nang Non mountain range, a formation with numerous waterfalls and caves that straddles the Thai-Myanmar border.

They expected the process to take two or three days with two divers escorting each boy.

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"People don't understand how much gear these guys have", Zweig said of the rescuers. But authorities have said it remains unclear how long the boys would have to remain inside.

Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out. A major concern of the rescuers is that oxygen levels in their safe space could fall dangerously low.

Billionaire tech developer Elon Musk had also offered to provide assistance, in the form of a "kid-size submarine", which could arrive in Thailand early Monday, local time.

Divers have previously described conditions in the cave network as some of the most extreme they have ever faced.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone. You don't need to be anxious about me".

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