Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

A unsafe rescue mission to free 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a Thai cave for two weeks has begun, authorities said.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday morning local time, Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said the trapped boys were aware of efforts being made to rescue them but the extraction will be long and incredibly risky.

Officials said Saturday they were aiming to rescue the boys before seasonal monsoon rains hit, which could flood the caves.

The four had been trapped underground with eight other boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old soccer coach for more than two weeks. The rising water filled large stretches of the cave, cutting off the team's escape route and keeping rescuers from finding the team for 10 days, CBS News noted. One boy's note said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry".

"If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, Federation Internationale de Football Association would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow as our guests". Helicopters and several ambulances were seen departing from the cave area, though there was no official announcement of whom they were carrying.

"Today is the D-Day for the rescuers", said Narongsak Osottanakorn, the outgoing governor of Chiang Rai province.

The first boy rescued exited the cave 5:40 p.m. local time, followed by three of his team members shortly after.

Two more boys were pulled from the cave a short time later from where they had been marooned by floodwaters more than two miles from the cave entrance, the Thai Navy SEAL official Facebook page said.

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The rescue mission has concluded for the night and will resume in 10 to 20 hours because of low oxygen levels.

He said the first boys could emerge from the cave at around 2pm Irish time.

To make matters worse, rescuers are facing a "war with water and time" as unsafe monsoon storms and torrential rainfall could derail the mission.

The letters were picked up by Thai navy SEALs who made an 11-hour journey back-and-forth to act as postal couriers.

Depleting oxygen levels in the cave have also been a cause for concern over the past week.

The boys' conditions were "not that bad" and "they're OK", according to Eve Tapanya from the Tourist Police.

Bursts of heavy monsoon rain soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai Province on July 8 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.

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