Rescuers clear hurdle in cave search for missing Thai boys

Rescuers clear hurdle in cave search for missing Thai boys

Rescuers clear hurdle in cave search for missing Thai boys

Rescue teams found the 12 missing boys and their assistant coach inside a cave, showing "signs of life" nine days after they went missing, Chiang Rai province's governor said.

The global rescue operation - which includes more than 1000 people from Thai emergency services, Australian crews, alongside a USA military contingent and British cave experts - stepped up its efforts since the 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach disappeared during an outing in the caves in northern Thailand on June 23.

They disappeared when flooding trapped them after entering the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23.

Narongsak said they located the missing boys about 300-400m past a section of the cave that was on higher ground and was thought to be where the team members and their coach may have taken shelter.

Media reported that expert British cavers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton were the divers who first found the missing team in the cave.

The boys have been given energy gels to sustain them while a plan is worked out to bring them to safety.

"Supplying them on site may face challenges depending on how hard the dives are", Mirza, coordinator of the US National Cave Rescue Commission, said in an email.

Efforts to locate the team in the network were complicated by rising water levels, which continued as the rain did not abate. After the boys and the coach are brought out of the cave and their condition assessed, the ambulances will transport them to hospital within 30 minutes.

"[We will] prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water", Navy Captain Anand Surawan said via a statement.

"Thank you so much", says one of the huddled group.

All 13 missing people appeared to be in good condition, with no illnesses or injuries, said Mr Narongsak, citing information provided by the Thai Navy Seals maintaining an actual base inside the cave.

Divers from the Thai navy's elite SEAL unit were groping their way through the murky waters filling passages of the 10 kilometre underground maze of the Tham Luang cave, as the rescue effort turned increasingly desperate.

Said Mr Narongsak: "We have medic divers stationed and will determine the best thing to do".

The massive worldwide rescue effort has been under way since the group went missing, with rescue teams battling through thick mud and high water to try to reach the group in the cave network that stretches 10km into a mountain.

But one cave rescue expert was cautious about this approach.

Australian police and military personnel were deployed Saturday to join other multinational teams, including USA military personnel and experts from a British cave exploration club.

"I think in truth even the families of the missing boys and their coach would say that this is astonishing news", said Holland.

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