Thai cave rescue – LIVE: Same divers to conduct next mission for remaining boys, say officials



Thai officials say the same team of divers who successfully extracted four boys form the flooded cave in Chiag Rai will also conduct the next rescue mission.

Eight boys and their coach remain trapped in the chamber where they were found one week ago. On Monday, the young football team entered their 17th day lost inside the cave complex, which flooded suddenly from monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a match on 23 June.

Several hours of heavy rain hit the region again on Sunday night, dampening the hopes raised by the day’s successful rescue operation. The four boys saved yesterday have been taken to hospital and are said to be in good condition after their ordeal. 

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Sunlight has just broken through grey skies in the north of Thailand, writes Matt Bloomberg from the Chiang Rai cave site, as the operation to evacuate a boys’ football team from the flooded cave system outside the township of Mae Sai moves into day two.

Foreign and Thai rescuers arriving at the cave entrance on Monday morning

 

Spirits are at their highest point since the 12 boys and their coach went missing on 23 June, following the successful removal yesterday of four boys from a dark and dangerous network of caves inundated with muddy flood waters.

The acting provincial governor labeled yesterday’s operation a “masterpiece”, and said that the four boys were receiving treatment at a hospital in the provincial capital of Chiang Rai, about 60 km from the caves. 

Classmates of the missing boys have been released from school and have joined the hundreds of volunteers working on logistics, as the town buzzes with excitement ahead of the expected removal today of at least some of the remaining boys.

No official timeline has been announced for today’s operation. Divers assembled at the mouth of the cave around 9am.

We’ll start with a recap of the extraordinary events of Sunday, when four of the 12 boys trapped in the caves here in Mae Sai were effectively carried out through the network of flooded tunnels and passage-ways by a team of world-leading cave divers.

The four, who have not been named, were taken for treatment in a hospital in the provincial capital of Chiang Rai.

In a press conference shortly before 9pm (3pm BST) last night, acting governor Narongsak Osatanakon gave no indication of the boys’ mental or health state, other than saying that they were “well”.

The governor said that the boys, assisted by rescue divers, had come out of the cave at intervals between 5.40pm (11.40am BST) and 7.50pm (1.50pm).

“The rescuers swam through the cave while holding the boys beneath their bodies,” Mr Narongsak said of the perilous journey through narrow caves with jagged edges. The divers are believed to have had to detach their oxygen tanks in order to pass through some of the tightest stretches.

While those rescued are now being treated in hospital after more than two weeks trapped inside the flooded cave, eight boys and their football coach remain perched on a ledge of about 10 square metres.

The governor said that the rescue effort could only resume if the conditions were right, and after the divers had had between 10 and 20 hours to replenish themselves and prepare their equipment to head back.

Read the full story from Matt Bloomberg at the caves in Mae Sai, here:

 

 

Welcome to The Independent’s live blog on Monday 9 July from the cave site in Chiang Rai where officials are racing to rescue a trapped youth football team.

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Rescuers at the Thai cave woke up to cloudy skies on Monday. It was not immediately clear how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand‘s far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and dangerous plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave. 

Thailand’s Meteorological Department said there was a 60 per cent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week. 

Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities said the next phase could begin any time within a 10-hour window that began about 7am Monday.

In comments released by the government, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining nine people from the cave in the country’s north. 

Anupong said divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach have been trapped. He said that process can take several hours. 

He said the boys rescued on Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.



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