4 boys rescued from Thai cave after soccer team trapped for 2 weeks
Ambulances parked on standby outside the hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, July 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/PONGMANAT TASIRI
An ambulance transporting the first two children who have been rescued, heading to hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, July 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT
A convoy of ambulances transport children after they have been rescued from Tham Luang cave heading to hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand, July 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT
Thai military medical personnels take part in preparations during rescue operations to save a soccer team at Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, July 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/PONGMANAT TASIRI
A Thai Navy walks inside the blocking area during rescue operations to save a soccer team at Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, July 8, 2018. EPA-EFE/PONGMANAT TASIRI
Mae Sai, Thailand, Jul 8 (EFE).- Four of the 12 members of a Thai youth soccer team were rescued Sunday after being trapped inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand for two weeks along with their coach, and were receiving medical attention in the nearby city of Chang Rai, authorities confirmed.
Speaking at a press conference, the head of coordination for the rescue mission Narongsak Osatanakorn said diving operations had ended for the night and efforts to extract the remaining eight schoolboys, aged between 11 and 16, and their coach, 26, would re-commence in around 10-20 hours.
"Our operation was more successful than we expected," Osatanakorn said, updating reporters with the latest information about the huge effort to save the 13 people from the Tham Luang cave system in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, where they became trapped on June 23 after the passages they used to enter the system became flooded.
He said the rescued boys, who have no prior diving experience, had to travel underwater for 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) in order to make it to the exit, at times passing through sections less than 0.6 meters (2 feet) wide.
The team and their coach were found nine days after disappearing, stranded on an embankment around 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) inside the cave network.
The first two boys to be evacuated from the cave system emerged at 5.40pm local time and were promptly airlifted to a hospital in Chang Rai, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park.
A let-up in heavy rainfall in the region allowed the massive rescue operation to get underway.
On each journey into the cave, divers will need to travel through 1.7 kilometers (1.1 miles) of narrow passages in waters with strong currents and close to zero visibility, trips that are fraught with danger and which could take up to 11 hours each time.
One rescue diver died Thursday after running out of oxygen while diving from the cave where the children are trapped.
Doctors and paramedics have been stationed in and around the cave in the event of an emergency.
The story of the 13 people trapped in the cave has garnered huge international media attention.