Six boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than a fortnight were rescued on Sunday, authorities said, raising hopes elite divers would also save the others.
The head of the operation to save the boys and their coach who have been trapped for more than two weeks in the Thai cave, told newsmen that it was going “better than expected.” 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.
The rescued boys emerged as night fell from the Tham Luang cave complex after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways.
Shortly before 8 p.m., Thai navy SEALs, who are taking part in the rescue operation, reported on their official Facebook page that six boys had been rescued. Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said the four boys had been taken to a hospital.
“The operation went much better than expected,” Narongsak said at a news conference, adding that the healthiest were taken out first. He said the next phase of the operation would start in 10-20 hours.
The group became trapped in a cramped chamber deep inside Tham Luang in a mountainous area of northern Thailand on June 23, when they went in after football practice and got caught behind rising waters.
Their plight transfixed Thailand and the rest of the world, as authorities struggled to devise a plan to get the boys — aged between 11 and 16 — and their 25-year-old coach out. The rescue of the initial batch of boys was a stunning victory in an operation Narongsak had earlier dubbed “Mission Impossible”, and led to cautious optimism that the others would also be saved.
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