Four boys rescued from Thai cave as operation paused

Four boys rescued from Thai cave as operation paused

Four boys rescued from Thai cave as operation paused

Foreign elite divers and Thai Navy SEALS began the complex operation to extract the 12 boys and their football coach on Sunday morning as they raced against time, with imminent monsoon rains threatening more flooding that would doom the mission.

An additional eight boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach are still inside the Tham Luang cave, where they've been trapped by flood waters since June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days, CBS News reported. "They are now at the field hospital near the cave", said Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai's health department and part of the rescue team.

"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 flawless weather, water and the kids' readiness, physical and mental".

The rescuers plan to rest them in a cave, which has been the forward base for the divers, our correspondent says.

Narongsak Osottanakorn, who has been leading the operation, then confirmed that 18 divers had gone in to get the boys.

"They insist they are ready to come out", Narongsak said Sunday of the rescue team.

The latest update, albeit a sad one, is that a former Thai military Navy SEAL diver who was involved in the rescue mission is now dead.

The rescuers and boys will have to contend with navigating tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as with oxygen-depleted air. It is only a small battle we've won, but the war has not ended.

When the boys are freed, they will immediately be taken to Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, around 60 miles from the cave site. But the rescue mission may take two or three days before all of the stranded children are saved.

But initial euphoria over finding them alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get the footballers out of the flooded cave complex. The boys' coach also wrote a letter.

"We have reached peak readiness", the governor said.

The boys - cold, malnourished and exhausted - will have to swim large sections of the underground maze and squeeze through tiny gaps, some no bigger than 30cm.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone".

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