Four boys rescued from Thailand cave; eight delayed 10-20 hours

Love To Mum Dad...: From Boys Trapped In Thai Cave Letters Of Hope

Six members of a Thai schoolboy football team have been rescued from the flooded cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, a local rescue official said on Sunday. The first four rescued youths surfaced around 12pm GMT (7am ET) and were immediately taken to hospital to receive treatment.

The four young soccer players rescued from a Thai cave Sunday included the team's goalie and a boy who didn't even play with them but joined the group that day to be with his pal.

"I am still waiting here at the cave, keeping my fingers crossed to see whether my son will be one of those to come out today", Akkarat Wongsukjan, a mother of Pheerapat - known by his nickname "Night" - told AFP.

As the rescue mission was temporarily suspended while teams restocked on supplies, crews made preparations to free the remaining eight boys and their 25-year-old coach. Today is D-Day.' Fearing further flooding, he said the children, aged 11 to 16, might be stuck until January if they ignored yesterday's chance.

Osotthanakorn told reporters there would be a meeting Sunday evening to plan next steps, and that authorities want to ensure conditions are stable before beginning the next phase of the rescue. It was the rain that stranded the boys and their coach inside the caves to begin with, after they left their bicycles and ventured into the cave network late last month.

According to Chiang Rai provincial acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, the healthiest of the boys were removed first.

They were trapped in the flooded cave for nine days before being found.

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On Friday, Thai officials said the boys were working to build up their strength, but were not yet ready to navigate their way through small underwater passages - which can reportedly take an experienced diver around five hours.

Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the risky mission to bring out the 12 boys and their coach earlier on Sunday.

Mr Osatanakorn said a one-mile passage from the cave entrance to the third chamber, a staging ground for the mission, was "mostly walkable", adding: 'Although there are some slightly hard parts [where] we have to bend or crawl, we can say that we can just walk through it.

For the boys who can't swim, this 4km back to safety will likely take much longer. 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.

A former member of Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit died during a dive on Thursday night, a grim turn in what began two weeks ago as an outing to celebrate the birthday of one of the boys.

Billionaire tech developer Elon Musk had also offered to provide assistance, in the form of a "kid-size submarine", which could arrive in Thailand early Monday, local time. I miss you dearly.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone".

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