BANGKOK, Jul 8 – Four members of a youth soccer team who trapped in the flooded cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, for more than two weeks had been safely rescued, and currently receiving medical attention, confirmed Royal Thai Navy SEALS unit in its Facebook page tonight.
The former governor of Chiang Rai Narongsak Ossothanakorn, who is heading the rescue operation, is expected to appear in a media conference at 9 pm (local time) tonight.
Earlier, local media outlets, Khaosod English, Thai Rath and Bangkok Post citing sources reported on the safe rescue of the first two boys, brought from Tham Luang cave at between 5.30pm to 5.50pm (local time), followed by another two boys.
The first two rescued boys were later airlifted to provincial hospital using military helicopter, while the other two were given medical treatment on site first. Media report also stated that two other boys were in an advance stage of being rescued and would make their way out from the cave soon.
The entire operation to rescue all 13 could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam. Narongsak said earlier in the day that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and that two divers would accompany each boy as they’re gradually extracted.
The only way to bring the boys and their coach out of the cave is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out and died making the dive Friday.
Experienced cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving, as the boys are. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.
The boys and their coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.