First 4 boys rescued from Thai cave; rest await divers

11 Juillet, 2018, 04:47 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A curious soccer team a flooded Thai cave and a perilous trek to safety

Two divers accompanied each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since July 2, when searchers found them.

A girl shows a collage of pictures before relatives and friends begin prayers for the 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded cave, at Mesai Grace Church in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osotthanakorn said at a press conference four boys are safely in the hands of doctors.

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said earlier. Their condition was not immediately clear.

"Our operation was more successful than we expected", said Mr Narongsak, who is also the outgoing governor of Chiang Rai province.

Operations to rescue a trapped Thai soccer team began on Sunday, resulting in four rescues.

In a letter of his own, coach Ekapol Chanthawong apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal.

But monsoon flooding cut their escape and prevented searchers from finding them for 10 days. The Thai navy confirmed to the Guardian that the first two boys were freed late on Sunday afternoon and then airlifted to Chiang Rai city, which is about 50 miles from the cave.

"He added: "They can not decide how many of them will be able to come out for the first operation. Based on the complexity and difficulty of the cave environment it is unknown how long it might take and how many children would exit the cave". "With the entire round trip taking roughly 11 hours to complete, it could be days before the entire group emerges".

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It usually takes divers about five hours from where the boys were to reach chamber three, a dry point where the SEALs have set up a command post, and from which rescue officials said the boys could likely walk the rest of the way. Officials recognize that they have to finish the recuses quickly, before seasonal monsoon rains arrive and flood the caves even further.

Narongsak said Sunday morning two divers would escort each of the boys out of the cave.

Divers had to hold the boys close to their bodies to bring them out and each had to wear an oxygen mask to enable normal breathing, authorities said. "We have tried all possible ways to get the boys out, but sometimes we can't win over nature".

Authorities did not reveal the identity of the boys as they were brought out. He says the earliest they will come out is 9 p.m. Sunday (10 a.m. ET).

The four boys were among 12 members of the Wild Boars team, ages 11-16, who ventured deep into the cave along with their 25-year-old coach on June 23. For the last several days, crews have been trying to drain enough water out of the cave to make the rescue easier.

The team is trapped more than four kilometres from the mouth of a cave, and a series of obstacles - including low-visibility water, extremely narrow passages and the boys' inability to swim - stand between them and freedom.

There was scattered rain in the area of the cave on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL underscored the risks.

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