Four boys have exited Thai cave

Erika Holt
July 9, 2018

Up to four boys from a group of 12 children who have been trapped inside a cave in northern Thailand for more than two weeks have been freed, the Guardian has confirmed.

The letters from the boys penned by the Thai Navy SEAL who is staying with the boys in the cave.

The team of 18 divers entering the cave have budgeted 11 hours for each rescue attempt to get the boys out-five hours to get there and six hours to get the boys out, with a one-hour rest. It took about two minutes for the rescue vehicles to transport them to helicopters which later flew them to the city centre. It remains unclear how numerous boys have actually left the cave.

Another eight boys, along with their coach, are still waiting to be rescued from the cave, where they have been trapped in near darkness since Jun 23.

Chiang Rai provincial acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the rescue operation, said divers will need about 10 hours to prepare for the next phase of rescue, but that the operation was going "better than expected".

The rescue mission began after rainshowers 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.

Some took time on Sunday to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to ensure the boys had enough oxygen. But authorities have said it remains unclear how long the boys would have to remain inside. The SEAL team is working with an global team of rescuers to bring out the 13 people stuck in the cave.

That was nearly a week ago, and a Thai navy seal has died trying to rescue the players. The boys had moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old.

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The authorities in Thailand say an air line into the cave has now been successfully installed.

A multi-pronged rescue effort has been underway since they were found almost a week ago. Getting trained divers in is easier than getting untrained kids out.

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.

A source said the football team will be divided into four groups. "But I expect the operation to finish in the next couple of days".

But even with the help of the experts, the journey is a unsafe one.

Families of the teenage soccer players have expressed their joy over the discovery of the boys.

On Saturday, one father told Sky News he felt confident his son was "in safe hands" after receiving a letter from the boy, brought to parents by rescuers. "He's thinner", she said, as she ran her finger over the image of her son on a television screen. The Thai provided months' worth of food and diving lessons to the boys.

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