THEY’RE OUT! Trapped team all safely out of Thai cave

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) – Get the latest info here

All 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, the Thai navy SEALs said Tuesday, ending an 18-day ordeal that riveted people around the world.

The SEALs said on their Facebook page that the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old coach were all brought out safely Tuesday.

They said they were waiting for a medic and three SEALs who stayed with the boys in their dark refuge deep inside the cave complex to come out.

Eight of the trapped boys had been brought out of the cave by divers on Sunday and Monday.

The plight of the boys and their coach has riveted Thailand and much of the world — from the heart-sinking news that they were missing to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers. They were trapped in the cave that became flooded by monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a soccer practice on June 23.

The eight boys brought out by divers over the previous two days were doing well and were in good spirits, a senior health official said.

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Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach rescued from cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks.

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6:30 p.m.

Three ambulances, their lights flashing, have been seen leaving the site of the flooded Thai cave where rescuers are involved in an all-out effort to rescue members of a youth soccer team and their coach trapped deep within.

Earlier Tuesday, Thai navy SEALS said a ninth boy had been brought out of the cave on the third day of the rescue effort. The departure of the three ambulances suggests others also have been rescued, but there was no immediate official confirmation.

Rescuers hope to complete their mission Tuesday after rescuing four boys on each of the previous two days. That left four boys and their 25-year-old coach still in the cave.

The 12 boys and their coach were trapped by flooding in the cave more than two weeks ago.

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5:10 p.m.

Thailand’s navy SEALs say a ninth boy has been brought out of a flooded cave in the country’s far north.

The SEALs said on their Facebook page that "the 9th Wild Boar was out of the cave at 4:06 p.m." Tuesday, referring to the name of the trapped boys’ soccer team.

Rescuers hope to complete their mission Tuesday after rescuing four boys on each of the previous two days.

The 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach were trapped by flooding in the cave more than two weeks ago.

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3:50 p.m.

An ambulance has been seen leaving the site of the Thai cave where divers are carrying out what they hope is a final mission to bring out four boys and their soccer coach still trapped deep inside.

At least nine ambulances have been waiting at the site after the leader of the rescue operation said Tuesday’s aim was to bring out all five as well as a medic and three Thai Navy SEALS, who have been with the trapped boys.

Officials have generally waited hours to confirm rescues.

Tuesday’s operation began just after 10 a.m.

In the past two days, eight boys were rescued and are now in a hospital isolation ward while they are tested for any possible infections. Medical experts say they are in high spirits and generally healthy.

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11:50 a.m.

The Thai official overseeing the effort to rescue members of a teen soccer team trapped in a flooded cave says a third rescue operation has begun Tuesday and aims to bring out the remaining four boys and their coach.

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn says the rescue mission began at 10.08 a.m. and involves 19 divers. He said a medic and three SEALS in the cave, who’ve been looking after those trapped, will also come out.

Narongsak said, "We expect that if there is no unusual condition … the 4 boys, 1 coach, the doctor, and 3 SEALs who have been with the boys since first day will come out today."

The eight boys rescued after being trapped for more than two weeks were described as generally healthy.

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10:30 a.m.

A Thai public health official says the eight boys rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand are in "high spirits" and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players.

Jesada Chokdumrongsuk, deputy director-general of the Public Health Ministry, said Tuesday that the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food.

He said two of them possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally "healthy and smiling."

He said, "the kids are footballers so they have high immune systems."

The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14.

Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass barrier.

Four boys and their soccer coach remain in the cave.

7:40 a.m.

An aide to the Thai Navy SEAL commander says four boys were brought out of the flooded cave in northern Thailand on Monday and the ongoing rescue operation is over for the day.

The aide, Sitthichai Klangpattana, didn’t comment on the boys’ health or say how well the operation has gone.

A total of eight of the 12 boys have now been brought out of the treacherous cave system by divers, including four who were brought out on Sunday, when the rescue operation began.

The boys and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped for more than two weeks after heavy rains flooded the kilometers- long cave network made up of caverns connected by tight passages.

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EARLIER:

Rescuers in northern Thailand on Sunday extracted at least four members of a youth soccer team from the cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, part of an ongoing operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach, officials said.

The operation to rescue the boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach by having them dive out of the flooded cave began Sunday morning, with expert divers entering the sprawling complex for the complicated and dangerous mission.

Shortly before 8 p.m., the Thai navy SEALs reported on their official Facebook page that four had been rescued.

Helicopters and several ambulances were seen departing from the cave area, though there was no official announcement of whom they were carrying.

Officials had said earlier that helicopters were on standby to take anyone rescued from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province to a hospital.
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and that two divers would accompany each boy as they’re gradually extracted.

"Divers will work with doctors in the cave to examine each the kids’ health to determine who should get to come out first," Narongsak said Sunday morning.

The entire operation to rescue all 13 could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam.

The only way to bring the boys and their coach out of the cave is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out and died making the dive Friday.

Experienced cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving, as the boys are. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

But Narongsak said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won’t last if it rains again.

Before announcing that the rescue was underway, authorities ordered the throngs of media that have gathered at the cave from around the world to leave.

The boys and their 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.

The ordeal has riveted Thailand and made global headlines, and the search and rescue operation has involved international experts and rescuers.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday: "The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!"

Authorities had said that incoming monsoon rains that could send water levels in the cave rising, coupled with falling oxygen levels in the enclosed space, added to the urgency of getting those trapped out. Earlier efforts to pump out water from the cave have been set back every time there has been a heavy downpour.

Narongsak said Saturday that experts told him water from new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters (108 square feet).

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today," he said Saturday. "Finding the boys doesn’t mean we’ve finished our mission. It is only a small battle we’ve won, but the war has not ended. The war ends when we win all three battles — the battles to search, rescue and send them home."

The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. The notes were sent out with divers who made an 11-hour, back-and-forth journey to act as postmen.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don’t worry, I am fine. I’ve told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken. With love."
"Don’t be worried, I miss everyone. Grandpa, Uncle, Mom, Dad and siblings, I love you all. I’m happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care. Love you all," wrote Mick.

"Night loves Dad and Mom and brother, don’t worry about me. Night loves you all," wrote Night, in the Thai manner of referring to one’s self in the third person.
The most touching note came from one whose name was not clear: "I’m doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don’t worry. Although, don’t forget to set up my birthday party."

Another, of indistinct origin, asked their teacher not to give them a lot of homework.

In a letter of his own, the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, apologized to the boys’ parents for the ordeal.

"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents," he wrote.

An update Saturday from the Thai navy said three navy SEALs were with the boys and their coach, one a doctor. The 13 were having health evaluations and rehabilitation, and were being taught diving skills. Food, electrolyte drinks, drinking water, medicine and oxygen canisters have been delivered to them. A major concern of the rescuers is that oxygen levels in their safe space could fall dangerously low.

Rescuers have been unable to extend a hose pumping oxygen all the way to where the boys are, but have brought them some oxygen tanks.


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