Four Thai schoolboys have emerged from the cave where they have been trapped with eight other children and their soccer coach for two weeks.
The first two boys — described as the weakest of the group — emerged from the Tham Luang cave complex Sunday night and were immediately placed into ambulances and rushed to a hospital.
The Nation newspaper of Thailand said the condition of one of the first two footballers rescued from the Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai was causing some concern. The newspaper gave the name of one of the boys as Mark.
“He has been listed as red, signifying a serious case. The two were brought to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital,” the newspaper said.
A short time later, the Thai Navy SEAL official announced four persons were out of the cave. And moments after, a defence ministry official increased the number to six.
This led to an explosion of jubilation on social media in Thailand and around the world as the rescued boys were rushed to hospital.
With oxygen levels dropping to 30 percent and approaching monsoon rains, authorities decided now was the time to rescue the boys, Chiang Rai Province Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said at a press conference.
In all, 13 foreign divers and five Thai SEALS are involved in the rescue, which requires a treacherous, 2.4-mile journey through the cave complex.
They expected the process to take two or three days with two divers escorting each boy.
“We have a fraction of a second to help them come out,” the governor said.
At 10 a.m. local time, 10 divers headed to chamber 9 where the boys are located and the others will remain along the route to assist.
“They insist they are ready to come out,” Narongsak said Sunday of the rescue team. “Family has already been notified.”
He added doctors assessed they were “very fit physically and mentally… They are determined and focused.” The group and their families agreed that they should be moved as soon as possible, he said.
The trip entails foot walking through muddy areas or floating through water.
“There are two obstacles, which are water and time,” Narongsak said. “We have tried all possible ways to get the boys out, but sometimes we can’t win over nature.”
Ruled out was drilling into the cave from above.
“Experts’ assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be,” said Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander. “If we don’t do it today we will lose our opportunity.”
Narongsak said efforts to remove floodwater and divert water flows have been “very successful,” but seasonal monsoon rains are forecast to hit the region this weekend and throughout next week.
“We are very happy with the water situation here,” he said. “The perfect situation would be to have zero water, which is impossible. The water level would be zero during December or January, so this situation is absolutely impossible. The next best situation would be if the water level is as low as possible to move the kids.”
Reported b y UPI and The Nation of Bangkok