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Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave have been rescued.
Mae Sai - Thai authorities began on Sunday a dramatic operation to rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded Thai cave, where they have been trapped for more than two weeks.
The group was found alive following a gruelling search by divers, who are now working to free the youngsters.With fresh monsoon rains due, rescuers warn the window of opportunity to evacuate the boys is "limited".Here is a timeline of the efforts to find and free the group.-
Saturday, June 23
The youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach enter the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand during heavy rains after football practice.
They are reported missing by a mother after her son does not come home that night.
Local officials find bicycles locked to a fence and shoes and football boots close to the entrance.
Sunday, June 24
Park officials and police find handprints and footprints believed to belong to the boys. Relatives start to keep a vigil outside the cave.
Monday, June 25
Thai Navy SEAL divers enter the cave searching for the boys. Makeshift shrines are set up for parents to pray and make offerings as heavy rains continue.
Tuesday, June 26
Divers reach a T-junction several kilometres inside the cave but are forced back by rushing floodwaters that clog a narrow crevice near an elevated air pocket called "Pattaya Beach", where the boys are believed to have retreated.
Wednesday, June 27
A team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command arrive, including pararescue and survival specialists.
They are joined by three British diving experts who enter the cave but quickly retreat in the face of heavy flooding.
Thursday, June 28
The underwater rescue is temporarily halted after downpours bring fast-moving floods inside the cave.
Water pumps are shipped in to drain the rising, murky floodwaters and drones are dispatched to help find new vents in the cave roof.
Friday, June 29
Thailand's junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha visits the site, leads a meditation and jokes and cooks with relatives, asking them not to give up hope.
Saturday, June 30
A break in the rain allows divers to reach further inside the cave but they are still a long distance from where the boys are believed to be.
Sunday, July 1
Divers inch further into the cave, as an operating base is set up inside and hundreds of air tanks and other supplies are pulleyed in.
Monday, July 2
Finally, a miracle: the 12 boys and their coach are found alive late Monday evening about 400 metres beyond Pattaya Beach.
Crowds at the teeming rescue site cheer the good news, but attention soon turns to the difficult task of getting the boys out safely.
Tuesday, July 3
Much-needed food and medical supplies - including high-calorie gels and paracetamol - reach the boys as rescuers prepare for the possibility that they may remain in the cave for some time.
Wednesday, July 4
Officials say the group are being taught how to use diving masks and breathing apparatuses. Teams pump out water around the clock as more rain is forecast for the days ahead.
Thursday, July 5
In a sign of increased urgency, authorities say expected rains may force a complex rescue quicker than first thought.
A team of bird's nest collectors scour the mountainside in search of new openings into the cave roof.
Friday, July 6
Tragedy strikes: a diver helping to establish an airline to the boys dies after passing out while returning from the chamber.
Saman Kunan's death raises serious doubts over the safety of attempting a rescue through the cave's cramped and waterlogged passageways.
Thailand's Navy SEAL commander says oxygen levels inside have dropped. He warns the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is "limited", in the first official admission that the rescue cannot wait out the monsoon rains.
Saturday, July 7
Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says it is "not suitable" yet to have the boys dive to safety.
A scrawled message emerges from the team's coach, offering his "apologies" to their parents.
The head of the rescue mission says more than 100 vents are being drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach the boys.
Sunday, July 8
Authorities announce that, with more heavy rain expected soon, the extraction operation has begun.
Thirteen "world class" foreign divers and Thai Navy Seals enter the cave as the rescue begins.
They say the first boy is expected out at 9pm (1400 GMT) but that the operation would take two to three days to complete, and that the weather would also play a role in the timeframe. - AFP
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018
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!
The Thai boys' soccer team is still down there, and it could take months to get them out #ThailandCave pic.twitter.com/J6wBv6hjAG— IN THE NOW (@IntheNow_tweet) July 3, 2018
The Thai boys' soccer team is still down there, and it could take months to get them out #ThailandCave pic.twitter.com/J6wBv6hjAG
RT CGTNOfficial "Head of rescue operation's brief on #ThaiCaveRescue:- four boys delivered to hospital safely- first one brought out at 5:40 p.m. local time (1040 GMT)- 50 foreign divers, 40 Thai divers involved in operation- 10 hours needed for … pic.twitter.com/jaR3RrkHiM"— ??? (@wufeiyu065) July 8, 2018
RT CGTNOfficial "Head of rescue operation's brief on #ThaiCaveRescue:- four boys delivered to hospital safely- first one brought out at 5:40 p.m. local time (1040 GMT)- 50 foreign divers, 40 Thai divers involved in operation- 10 hours needed for … pic.twitter.com/jaR3RrkHiM"
A Thai military helicopter, carrying some of the boys among a group of 13 trapped inside a flooded Thai cave, lands at a field in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 8, 2018.
Foreign elite divers and Thai Navy SEALS on July 8 began the extremely dangerous operation to extract the 12 boys and their football coach as they raced against time, with imminent monsoon rains threatening more flooding that would doom the rescue operation. (AFP)
THAI CAVE RESCUE: Thai Navy SEALs says rescuers have safely carried four boys out of the cave. One official said, “today is D-Day." #NBC10BostonLATEST: https://t.co/jXFf3S7b05 pic.twitter.com/b0Ax6pz654— Nick Emmons NBC10 Boston (@nicknbcboston) July 8, 2018
THAI CAVE RESCUE: Thai Navy SEALs says rescuers have safely carried four boys out of the cave. One official said, “today is D-Day." #NBC10BostonLATEST: https://t.co/jXFf3S7b05 pic.twitter.com/b0Ax6pz654
Thai rescue commander says it’s going better than expected. 90 divers involved- 10 at the Apex, taking the boys out two by two. 4 now out & in hospital. Divers put each boy underneath them as they swam/dived out. #ThaiCaveRescue— Bill Neely (@BillNeelyNBC) July 8, 2018
Thai rescue commander says it’s going better than expected. 90 divers involved- 10 at the Apex, taking the boys out two by two. 4 now out & in hospital. Divers put each boy underneath them as they swam/dived out. #ThaiCaveRescue
Mae Sai - Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than a fortnight were rescued on Sunday, authorities said, as elite divers raced to save the others.
The first two emerged from the Tham Luang cave complex after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways.
"Two are out of the cave. Two more are likely to follow shortly," Lieutenant-General Kongcheep Tantrawanit told AFP.
Kongcheep said that the other two boys had also reached a base camp inside the complex from where they could walk the rest of the way.
Foreign elite divers and Thai Navy SEALS on Sunday morning began the extremely dangerous operation to extract the 12 boys and their football coach as they raced against time, with imminent monsoon rains threatening more flooding that would doom the rescue operation.
"Today is the D-day. The boys are ready to face any challenges," rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters near the cave site on Sunday morning.
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 first four was a stunning victory in an operation Narongsak had earlier dubbed "Mission Impossible", but there were no guarantees the others would emerge safely.
Another operation commander said on Sunday the rescue efforts could take several days to complete, with the boys and their coach being brought out one-by-one.
The group was found dishevelled and hungry by British cave diving specialists nine days after they ventured in.
Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out.
The death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey even for professionals. After a short deluge of rain on Saturday night and with more bad weather forecast, Narongsak on Sunday said authorities had to act immediately.
"There is no other day that we are more ready than today," he said.
"Otherwise we will lose the opportunity.
"Between the base camp inside the cave and the trapped boys are twisting, turning cave passageways with torrents of water gushing through.
The water in the cave is muddy and unclear, with one diver comparing it to a cafe latte. Ropes were installed to help guide the boys through the darkness.
Narongsak said Sunday morning two divers would escort each of the boys out of the cave.
Officials had looked at many different ways to save the boys and their coach.One early potential plan was to leave them there for months until the monsoon season ended and the floods subsided completely, but that idea was scrapped over concerns about falling oxygen levels and waters rising too high.
More than 100 exploratory holes were also bored -- some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep -- into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into the dangerous dive.
American technology entrepreneur Elon Musk even deployed engineers from his private space exploration firm SpaceX and Boring Co. to help.
Meanwhile rescuers fed a kilometres-long air pipe into the cave to restore oxygen levels in the chamber where the team was sheltering with medics and divers.
On Saturday, Thai Navy SEALs published touching notes scrawled by the trapped footballers to their families, who had been waiting for them agonisingly close by outside the cave entrance.
The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.
In one, Pheerapat, nicknamed "Night", whose 16th birthday the group were celebrating in the cave when they became stuck on June 23, said: "I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister. You don't need to be worried about me." - AFP
Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave reached the rescue base camp inside the complex on Sunday and will walk out soon, the country's defence ministry spokesman told AFP.
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