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. Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said two divers will accompany each boy as they are led out of the cave.
They were followed shortly afterwards by four others, leading to an explosion of jubilation on social media in Thailand and around the world as the rescued boys were rushed to hospital. The ambulances drove to a nearby helipad and a helicopter was seen taking off.
Narongsak had dubbed Sunday to be "D-day" as the complicated effort was launched in the morning.
Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.
The death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey even for professionals.
Thai Navy SEALS and dozens of volunteer rescue workers have worked around the clock funnelling food and oxygen into the cave and trying to train the soccer team and their coach to dive with heavy scuba gear on their backs.
On Saturday, rescue mission chief Narongsak said conditions were "perfect" to evacuate the team in the coming days before fresh rains and a possible rise in carbon dioxide further imperil the group.
The rescued boys were fitted with full-face masks for oxygen and had to travel more than a half-mile underwater in the struggle to reach safety along the 2.4-mile escape route, the governor said.
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Four boys have been rescued till now, rescue ops will resume today.
The team of 12 boys and their coach entered the cave system on June 23, but torrential rain caused the water level within the cave to rise rapidly, forcing them to venture deeper.
They were discovered by a team of British divers on Monday and rescue operations have been meticulously planned all week.
A team of 13 worldwide cave diving experts and five Thai Navy SEALs are carrying out rescue operations, according to a report of the CNN. Monsoon flooding blocked off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that engineers from two of his companies, the aerospace manufacturer SpaceX and the tunnel-construction company Boring Company, were headed to Thailand to lend their assistance.
While the initial strategy was to extract the strongest boys first, that was revised and the weakest were taken out after Dr Harris assessed their strength and health, Thai media reported. "Extremely robust", Musk tweeted, adding that it would take eight hours to construct and 17 hours to transport to Thailand. He posted a video of a diver testing the device in a pool.
United States president Donald Trump confirmed this morning in a tweet that the USA is among the six countries assisting Thai officials. "Very courageous and talented people!" he tweeted. The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. "I had been anxious about my son, that he would be exhausted, he would be tired", he said.