Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

Thai cave rescue: Four youths saved as rescue efforts continue

A helicopter flew the four boys to the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where they were taken by ambulance to hospital.

Six boys have exited a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they have been trapped for more than two weeks, a senior member of rescue operation's medical team said on Sunday.

Expert divers entered the sprawling complex for the complicated and risky mission.

Officials said on Sunday night that the extraordinary operation would now pause for 10 to 20 hours to assess next steps, check equipment and refill oxygen tanks stationed along the unsafe route.

Officials say the quickest time that the boys could be brought out of the cave is 9pm local time (3pm United Kingdom time) on Sunday, and the mission could take up to four days.

The operation to rescue the remaining eight boys - some as young as 11 and weak swimmers - and the coach was called off at nightfall until Monday to give the divers time to replenish oxygen supplies and ensure all preparations were complete.

The rescue operation claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver last week. Narongsak said some are well enough to ask for solid food. Having been stuck in the cave for two weeks, health concerns include dehydration, malnutrition and post-traumatic stress.

"Today is D-Day", Narongsak had earlier told reporters.

Water from heavy rains have flooded the cave, leaving the team trapped inside.

To get the boys out, divers will be forced by the narrow passages to accompany them one at a time.

The daring and unsafe 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.

With authorities releasing few details of the rescue bid, parents continued their agonising wait to be reunited with their sons.

"We have a fraction of a second to help them come out", the governor said.

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game.

The operation was launched at 10 am local time (0400 CET) on Sunday and involves 13 foreign divers and 5 Thai navy SEALs.

"Air tanks and systems have to be put in place again", he added.

They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank.

The ambulances were seen Sunday evening, but it was unclear who was inside them.

But with heavy rainfall overnight and more forecast for the coming days, divers will need to work quickly to free those still trapped.

Their condition is not yet known, but all four have been taken to Chiang Rai Region General Hospital some 35 miles south of the cave.

Cave rescue experts have said they consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving. Other divers were on guard along the unsafe first kilometer of the passageway.

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