'Today is D-Day': Rescuers begin mission to extract Thai cave boys

Former navy SEAL died from lack of oxygen while trying to rescue Thai soccer team in cave authorities say

Authorities undertook the risky mission to rescue 12 Thai schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a flooded cave on Sunday and authorities said the entire task may take three-four days to complete.

But Narongsak and the Thai Navy SEALS, who are involved in the rescue and have regularly posted updates about the operation on their Facebook page, reported only four were out of the cave.

Monsoon storm clouds could bring rain at any moment, which would further flood the cave where the 12 boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach have been cut off by rising water.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

They have since spent the last 15 days being located by local authorities, who today are sending in 18 divers to bring them out. The boys will gradually come out accompanied by two divers each.

But early on Sunday, journalists were told they had to move down the road, sparking speculation that a rescue mission was about to begin. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out making the dive Friday and died.

Diving teams and medical personnel entered the cave at 10:00 local time (03:00 GMT), rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on Sunday.

The rescuers and boys will have to contend with navigating tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as with oxygen-depleted air.




It is not yet known whether the boys swum out, or if they were sedated and delivered by the rescuers.

They expected the process to take two or three days with two divers escorting each boy.

A helicopter flew the four boys to the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where they were taken by ambulance to hospital. 'I know that we, the USA side, are prepared to stay as long as it takes to support the Thai operation.' She added that the core team consists of 17 people.

"Experts' assessments indicate that today is the most ready we can be", Choorat Panngao, Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander said.

Rescuers and the families of the 12 boys and their football coach being saved from a Thai cave complex are "cautiously optimistic".

The expedition started normally but things took a wrong turn when the group reportedly got stranded in the dark tunnels by a sudden inflow of water into the caves from the heavy rain.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

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