First six boys emerge from cave in Thailand

First six boys emerge from cave in Thailand

The first six young members of a Thai soccer team have been rescued from a flooded cave they were trapped in for more than two weeks, a member of the rescue operation said Sunday.

“I have received information that six have exited the cave”, a senior member of the rescue team told Reuters.

All six were examined and were found to be in good health, according to local outlet The Nation.

They will be brought out three at a time.

First six boys emerge from cave in Thailand

But another local outlet, Kahosod English, said one of the rescued soccer players was being “closely monitored.”

The Thai Navy Seals posted on their Facebook page that four of the boys had been rescued.

At least two of the boys were examined at a field hospital set up near the cave, Tossathep Boonthong, a member of the rescue team and chief of Chiang Rai’s health department told Reuters.

They were then driven in an ambulance to a helicopter and airlifted to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, where their parents and doctors are waiting.

Authorities in Chiang Rai began the dangerous mission to rescue the 12 boys — aged 11 to 16 — and their 25-year-old coach earlier on Sunday.

First six boys emerge from cave in Thailand

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

Doctors assessed the boys inside the Tham Luang cave on Saturday and decided to bring out the weakest first, according to reports.

Sources told the Bangkok Post that one of the first two boys rescued in 13-year-old Mongkol Boonpiem.

Previously, the entire round trip through the cave network was thought to take roughly 11 hours to complete, but efforts to drain the tunnels of flood water appear to have shortened the journey time.

Those still inside the cave are perched on a small muddy ledge four kilometers (2.5 miles) inside the cave, surrounded by flood water and with a limited supply of oxygen.

Race against time

For the boys, the most dangerous part of the journey out of the cave remains the first kilometer, in which they are required to pass through a flooded channel no wider than a person. During this process, rescuers need to hold their oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes.

Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who assist them through the remainder of the caves, much of which they can wade through.

But rescuers have a dwindling window of opportunity, with forecasters predicting the return of heavy monsoon rains in the coming days, effectively sealing off the cave until October.

“We have two obstacles: water and time. This what we have been racing against since day one. We have to do all we can, even though it is hard to fight the force of nature,” Osotthanakorn said earlier, as rain began to fall across the site.

A rescue mission like no other

Divers have previously described conditions in the cave network as some of the most extreme they have ever faced.

The decision to move the boys using divers has not been taken lightly. On Friday, a former Thai Navy SEAL died while returning from an operation to deliver oxygen tanks to the cave where the boys are located.

Now, more than two weeks after their children became trapped in a flooded cave, some of the families are finally celebrating their return.

Mary Greeley News