Thailand cave rescue HIGHLIGHTS: Four boys brought out, operation postponed until morning

Thailand cave rescue HIGHLIGHTS: Four boys brought out, operation postponed until morning

Thailand cave rescue HIGHLIGHTS:: Four boys of the soccer team which had been trapped inside the cave have been rescued Sunday from the flooded cave, a senior member of the rescue team said.

Thailand cave rescue LIVE updates: Six boys brought out, officials say
Thai rescue teams arrange water pumping system at the entrance to a flooded cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (Royal Thai Navy via AP/File)

In a major breakthrough, four boys of the soccer team which had been trapped inside the cave have been rescued Sunday from the flooded cave, a senior member of the rescue team said. The kids were immediately given medical assistance. “They are currently at the field hospital near the cave, we are giving them a physical examination,” said Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai’s health department and part of the rescue team, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The entire rescue operation to remove all 13 from inside the cave could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam.

With more than two weeks gone, Thailand authorities have begun the rescue operation for a group of 12 boys and their soccer coach who have been trapped in a flooded cave in northern Chiang Rai province. A former Thai Navy SEAL member died inside the cave on Thursday night due to lack of oxygen. Elon Musk had offered technological help to the Thai govt.

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Thailand cave rescue HIGHLIGHTS: Rescue Operations by the Navy's SEAL unit and divers brought out four boys. Follow this space for all the latest updates.

Thai navy SEALs posted on Facebook after a successful rescue mission

After the successful rescue of four schoolboys, Thai navy SEALs posted on their Facebook page again, saying: "Sweet dreams everyone. Good night. Hooyah."

The cave system is a formidable challenge for divers

"It's dangerous to the most experienced divers to go through," said one diver who spoke to Reuters. "It's pretty scary." The cave system, in a limestone mountain range bordering Myanmar in northern Thailand, has proven to be a formidable challenge for the international rescue coalition drawing some of the world's best divers who have volunteered to help in the operation alongside Thai Navy SEALs.

The first, nearly 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most difficult, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.

"The hole is really small, I have to take off my air tank to crawl through it," a 25-year-old Thai Navy SEAL who declined to be named, told Reuters before the rescue attempt. "As I do, I feel the edges of the hole on both my back and chest." (Reuters)

Four boys rescued from the cave

Four boys have been rescued from inside the cave. In an earlier update, it was erroneously mentioned as six, Reuters has issued a correction.

Rescue mission going better than expected: Thai official

Thai official heading the cave rescue says the operation is going better than expected, he added that the healthiest children have been taken out first, reports AP. 

Next phase of rescue mission will start in 10-20 hours

Thai official heading the cave rescue mission said that the next phase of the operation will start in 10-20 hours, reported AP

Massive rescue operation to remove boys from the cave

As many as 90 divers; 50 foreign and 40 Thai, involved in rescue operation to remove all those trapped in the cave - Head of rescue operation

Four rescued boys taken to a nearby hospital in a helicopter

A Royal Thai Police helicopter carrying rescued schoolboys takes off near Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. (Source: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

Donald Trump tweets about the rescue operation in Thailand

Rescued boys taken to hospital in ambulance

One of two ambulances was seen leaving the cave in northern Thailand hours after an operation began to rescue the trapped youth soccer players and their coach, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

"I have received information that six have exited the cave", a senior member of the rescue team told Reuters. A helicopter flew some of the boys to the nearby city of Chiang Rai where they were taken by ambulance to hospital.

Rescued kids given physical examination will be shifted to a hospital later

"Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave," said Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai's health department and part of the rescue team. "We are giving them a physical examination. They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet," Tossathep told Reuters.

JUST IN: First two of Thai soccer team rescued from cave, official says

The first two members of a Thai schoolboy soccer team have been rescued from the flooded cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, a local rescue official was quoted as saying by Reuters.

A team of divers from Thai navy SEAL and foreign divers will carry the rescue mission

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit are trying to bring the boys - some as young as 11 and weak swimmers – through narrow, submerged passageways. Bursts of heavy monsoon rain soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai province on Sunday and storms were expected in the coming weeks, increasing the risks in what has been called a "war with water and time" to save the team.

Rescuing them all could take three to four days and depended on the weather, an army commander involved in the mission said. The rescue teams had rehearsed the plan for several days, Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission said, and had managed to drain the water level in the cave considerably, but needed to move fast.

Reduced water levels prompts rescue mission in Thailand

Kobchai Boonyaorana, deputy director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department of the Interior Ministry, told reporters Sunday that the water level in the cave had continued to recede, and that rainfall was less than expected.

But weather forecasters warned heavy rain was on its way, which could flood the area completely. They said there was a 60-per cent chance of moderate to heavy rain on Sunday afternoon, and that heavier rain would continue from Monday to Thursday.

The rescue operation was launched after several days of relatively mild weather, as more than 100 million of litres of water were pumped out of the cave. (AFP)

Rescuer arrives near the cave in northern Thailand Sunday, the Thai authorities are racing to pump out water from the flooded cave before more rains are forecast to hit the northern region. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thai policemen stand guard near a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. (Source: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

It may take 2-4 days for the entire team to reach safety: Rescuers

The risky diving operation to bring out the 12 trapped children has started and the first boy is expected to be out of the cave around 9 pm Sunday (10 am ET) at the earliest. Rescuers say it may take 2-4 days for the entire team to reach safety, depending on conditions inside the cave.

The local governor in charge of the rescue says the mission was launched Sunday morning because floodwaters inside the cave are at their lowest level in days and rains forecast to hit the region risk flooding the cave again. (AP)

Rescue operations continue unhindered by heavy rainfall

According to Guardian reports, Thailand is hit by heavy rainfall within one mile around the cave, however, this does not hinder the rescue operations as it continues apace. 

Thai NavySEAL post a Facebook photo before rescue operations began

The Thai Navy SEAL had shared a picture on Facebook mentioning that they were ready for the rescue operations to help the group of young boys and their coach who are trapped inside the cave with help from an international team.

Elon Musk wished the team of divers luck for the rescue mission on Twitter

Elon Musk had wished the 'extremely talented dive team' luck in a tweet which also seems to indicate his involvement in the rescue mission.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop tweeted that an Australian medical specialist has also joined the team of divers involved in rescuing the group of boys trapped in the cave.

Rescue operation might extend over 2-4 days

The entire rescue operation to get the group of boys out of the cave might take two to four days, depending on the weather and water conditions, said Army General Chalongchai Chaiyakam. The only way to get the group out is by navigating through dark and tight passageways which is filled with muddy water and strong currents, apart from oxygen-depleted air. 

Former Nigerian Vice President Abubakar calls Thai govt proactive

Appreciating Thai government's proactiveness and care to rescue the boys trapped in the cave, former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar tweeted out a message.

'War with water and time,' says governor

Rainshowers have soaked the Tham Luang cave area in northern Thailand province for the past 24 hours, as predicted which heightened the risk of the rescue operations. The governor called the rescue mission which began this morning at 10 am (local time) a 'war with water and time' to save the team. The entire operation involves a mammoth response operation with a medical unit, ambulance and helicopter for every boy waiting outside the cave.

Rescue operations have begun

Governor Narongsak on Sunday morning announced that 'today is the D-day' for the operations to rescue the group of boys to begin. Nearly 13 foreign and five Thai divers are taking part in the rescue operations with two divers accompanying each boy during extraction. The operation began at 10 am and the governor predicted it should take at least 11 hours.

A map of the cave shows the risk of being trapped within

This map of the Thailand cave where the group of boys and their soccer coach are stuck shows the difficulty in reaching them and the problems faced by the boys as well as the divers who are trying to get through. (Source:  AP)

Officials clear media 

Authorities have asked the media to cordon off the area around the entrance of the cave. 12 boys, all between the ages of 11-16 along with their soccer coach have been trapped for two weeks.

According to an AP report, there are speculations about a rescue mission happening anytime soon. 

Read more | Officials clear media as cave rescue seems imminent

The death on Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks of making the underwater journey. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route to where the boys and others are sheltered.

Rescuers looking for other options

Rescuers are also pursuing other options to extract the boys, hoping that finding a shaft or drilling into the mountain in which the cave is located will lead them to a sort of backdoor entrance, an AP report said.

Oxygen tanks brought to the boys

Rescuers have been unable to extend a hose pumping oxygen all the way to where the boys are, but have brought them some oxygen tanks, news agency AP reported.

The boys sent handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. They sounded calm and reassuring in the notes which were sent out with divers who made an 11-hour, back-and-forth journey to act as postmen. One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: ``Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine. I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken. With love.''

Rescue efforts continue

More than 100 exploratory holes have been bored -- some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep -- into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into a dangerous dive through submerged tunnels.

Navy SEALs with boys inside Thai cave

An update Saturday from the Thai navy said three navy SEALs were with the boys and their coach, one a doctor. The 13 are having health evaluations and rehabilitation, and being taught diving skills. Food, electrolyte-drinks, drinking water, medicines, and oxygen canisters have been delivered to them, the navy said.

An accident on the hills near the caves leaves 6 injured

Rescuers on the hill who were seeking alternative routes down into the cave, an accident occurred on Saturday night: a vehicle skidded off a dirt track, seriously injuring the driver and a passenger and harming four other volunteers, authorities said.

The best window for a rescue could come in the next three or four days, the leader of the rescue effort said on Saturday.

Heavy rains near the cave worsens conditions for rescuers

A heavy rain shower hit northern Thailand late on Saturday, worsening conditions at the cave where rescuers were waging a "war with water and time" to save 12 trapped boys and their soccer coach, with a rescue possible within days.

The rain could potentially set back progress made over the last week to drain the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai. With oxygen levels dropping and more rainstorms forecast, time is running out on a plan to evacuate them.

Medical staff are stationed outside the cave ready to tend to the boys after they are evacuated

Thirteen fully staffed medical teams stand ready round the clock outside a cave in Thailand -- each with its own helicopter and ambulance. With oxygen levels dropping and rainstorms forecast, time is running out on a plan to reach the boys - since the young boys won't be able to make a dive through narrow, waterlogged passageways that would challenge experienced cavers.

Medical staff involved in the mission told Reuters their first assessments will focus on the boy's breathing, signs of hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as 'cave disease' which is caused by bat and bird droppings and can be fatal if it is untreated and spreads to other parts of the body.

Israeli technology helped in locating Thai soccer team trapped inside cave

Rescuers workers have reportedly used an Israeli technology to locate them. The Israeli rescuers were among the first to join this frantic mission and used state-of-the-art search and rescue technology to aid their mission, reported.

Israeli company Maxtech Networks CEO Uzi Hanuni told the Times of Israel that their system provides voice, data and video link to the boys who were located earlier this week. Hanuni adds that around 19 devices with a battery backup of about 10 hours’ use at a time were used to complete a link to the boys in the cave. Read more

Elon Musk tries his bit to help in the rescue operation in Thailand

Everything is a race against time: Forest park official on the recue efforts for the trapped children

Kamolchai Kotcha, an official of the forest park where the cave complex is located said, "Everything is a race against time." His team would camp out on the hill to try and finish its work before the rain came, he said.

The rescue operation has grabbed the interest of other countries including Australia, Britain, China, Japan and the United States, who are offering help.
"It's only natural for us to offer our help," Meir Schlomo, Israel's ambassador to Thailand, waqs quoted as sayying by Reuters.

Family members pray near a cave on Saturday where the 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. The coach apologised to the parents in the first letter he and the team have sent out through divers, in which the boys say they're doing well and missing their families. (Source: AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand cave rescue HIGHLIGHTS: A group of 12 boys and their soccer coach have been stuck in the Northern Thailand cave since June 23. There is 'limited time' to save the group before heavy rains set in, according to news agency AP.