Four members of soccer team have emerged from Thai cave

Thailand cave rescue

The perilous mission to evacuate 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach trapped deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand is under way, Thai authorities announced Sunday.

The head of the cave rescue operation in Thailand says four children have exited the cave.  They have been delivered safely to hospital.

Thai official says the healthiest of those trapped were taken out first, with 4 boys reportedly moved to hospital.  The crews are now planning the next rescue operation.  Earlier a senior member of the rescue team told Reuters, “I have received information that six have exited the cave.”  That information was not correct.

The first two boys were rescued just before 7 p.m. local time, a local official said.  Helicopters and ambulances have been seen leaving the rescue area.

“Our readiness is at the highest today. Today is D-day,” said Chiang Rai’s governor, Narongsak Osotthanakorn, adding that the families had been informed of the plan and given their support to the rescue effort.

At the entrance to the caves, volunteers assisting in the operation described the rescue attempt as a “now or never” scenario.

A group of 18 divers — 13 foreign and five Thai — began the operation at 10 a.m. Sunday local time to bring the 13 people out of the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province after the area saw mild weather and falling water levels in the cave.  The group was going to accompany the boys one-by-one through the flooded, narrow tunnels.

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.

Their families sat glued to television sets and phones for updates Sunday, expressing hope that their boys would soon return home.

One of the boys, Peerapat Sompeangjai, turned 16 on the day the group went missing in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex, in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand.

The Thai Navy said Saturday three navy SEALs, one a doctor, were with the boys and coach. The 13 were having health evaluations and rehabilitation, and were being taught diving skills. Food, electrolyte drinks, drinking water, medicine and oxygen canisters were been delivered to them.