Thai cave rescue: Operation resumes for remaining 9 who are trapped

Elias Hubbard
July 9, 2018

Four boys were brought to the surface on Sunday, more than two weeks after the group were trapped underground.

On Sunday night, Thai navy SEALs posted a celebratory note on their Facebook page, saying: "Have sweet dreams everyone".

The rescue of the initial batch of boys was a stunning victory in an operation Narongsak had earlier dubbed "Mission Impossible", and led to cautious optimism that the others would also be saved.

A total of 13 helicopters were on standby at the beginning of the rescue operation in case they were needed to take the boys and their coach to hospital quickly.

Karadzic was hopeful that Monday's operation would go as smoothly.

The rescue mission had called today "D-Day" because the water was at its lowest since the boys were discovered and heavy rains were forecast for later this week, giving them only four days to get all the boys out.

Officials said the first two boys had been extracted at 5:40 p.m. local time and traveled 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) underwater.

Divers have been guiding the boys through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.

Eight boys and their coach are still to be rescued.

Rescuers woke to gloomy skies and potential thunderstorms following a night of heavy monsoonal rains lashing the mountainous region.

"There are two obstacles, which are water and time", Narongsak said. This what we have been racing against since day one.

"With some mods, this could also work as an escape pod in space", Musk said.

The prospect of a downpour has been looming over rescuers since the very beginning.

The rescue team leader said that, in some of the larger caverns, extensive pumping had reduced water levels so that they were now walkable, even with the onset of fresh monsoon rain on Sunday. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each have an 80% to 90% chance of rain.

The rush of euphoria that ran through the town of Mae Sai and across the world when the group was found has settled into a grim reality as the unsafe rescue mission unfolds. "The boys are ready to face any challenges", rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters near the cave site on Sunday morning. Saman Gunan, a former Navy SEAL, ran out of air and drowned on his swim back out of the cave.

The Thai navy SEALs gave the boys crash courses in using diving masks and breathing underwater.

"Definitely, you can feel it that it has an effect, but we're moving on".

Thai soldiers unload diving gear and rescue equipment during the ongoing rescue operation.

"I feel very happy, everybody is happy", said Hnin Jaiwong, the mother of one of the trapped boys, 13-year-old Sompong Jaiwong.

Musk first tweeted about the boys trapped in the cave on 4 July after somebody asked him if he would assist.

On reading the letter Saturday evening, Chanin's father, Tanawut Viboonrungruang, said he felt a great sense of relief. "My dear Ek, I would never blame you". But a father of one of the boys told Reuters parents "can't visit our boys in hospital" and that "we have not been told which child has been brought out".

One of the primary concerns will be the boys' exposure to a lack of oxygen, said Dr. Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee.

The risky mission began Sunday with rain threatening to raise water levels inside the cave where the team was stranded two weeks.

On Friday, officials warned that oxygen levels in the cave dropped from 21% to 15%, complicating rescue efforts.

But his comments 12 hours later suggest the thinking had changed, with water levels inside the cave now managed to their lowest point by constant drainage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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