World

Rescue efforts for boys trapped in Thai cave begin

Rescue efforts for boys trapped in Thai cave begin

MAE SAI, Thailand- Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a unsafe and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

The latest images out of Chiang Rai show heavy clouds hanging low around the mountains where crews are racing to rescue the remaining members of the soccer team and their coach.

A Thai official says the next phase of the operation to rescue the rest of the trapped boys will begin in 10 to 20 hours as rescuers replenish their oxygen tanks.

The daring and risky bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - was suspended by the mission chief late on Sunday to replenish oxygen supplies and make new preparations, which he said would take at least 10 hours.

The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight.

The ambulances were seen Sunday evening, but it was unclear who was inside them. Eight boys were rescued in two separate missions and brought to a hospital in the nearby city of Chiang Rai all in good condition, according to public health officials.

Earlier Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that the US government is working with Thailand's government in the rescue operation.

However another operation commander said the operation would take two to three days to complete, with the boys and their coach being brought out one-by-one, and that the weather conditions would play a role in determining how long it would take.

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

Expert divers have spent the past week training the boys in basic diving.

The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow, flooded passageways.

After a short deluge of rain on Saturday night and with more wet weather forecast later on Sunday, Mr Narongsak said authorities had to act immediately.

After a day of exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province the boys and their coach became trapped on June 23.

The group was found dishevelled and hungry by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in. CNN reported that USA rescue divers did not directly participate in Sunday's initial operations, but that Americans were serving in "support and advisory" roles.

The announcement of US government involvement was sudden and this tweet is looked at as Trump's first public comment on the rescue mission. "Very courageous and talented people!"

Rescuers have been navigating a unsafe and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground. Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy downpour.

One particularly touching note from another boy said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry". "We have tried all possible ways to get the boys out, but sometimes we can't win over nature". It is only a small battle we've won, but the war has not ended. The rescue operation began shortly after they went missing but it took teams days to find the group.