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3Rescue efforts for boys in Thai cave have begun: mission chief

09 July 2018
3Rescue efforts for boys in Thai cave have begun: mission chief

Thai authorities have begun a bold rescue mission to free a soccer team of 12 boys and their coach, who've been trapped in Tham Luang cave network in Northern Thailand for two weeks following rainy season floods today.

A military operation - called "Wild Boar" - has commenced to rescue the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach.

Flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

Meanwhile, Ponrawee Tachavandee said he had spoken to Note's mother on Friday night - and she had been distraught since learning about the death of a Thai navy diver that day.

Gunan, thought to be 38, had left the navy, but had come back to help in the rescue operation, in which 1,000 people are now involved. The route is complicated by twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

On Saturday, the governor of the Chiang Rai region, where the cave is located, said the next three to four days were "the most favourable time for the operation in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health".

Thai officials had been leaning in their public statements toward a quick underwater evacuation because of fear that access to the cave could soon close again because of seasonal monsoon rains expected this weekend.

"The obstacles are water and time".

"Today is D-Day", Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters.

"The water level may rise to the area where the children are sitting and make the area less than 10sq meters", Narongsak said, citing estimates from cave divers and experts. Two divers from the United Kingdom were the first to make it, on Monday, to the area where the boys and their coach took shelter.

"We are ready. The boys are ready and strong enough to come out". It is only a small battle we've won, but the war has not ended.

An addendum to coach Ake was included: "And for coach Ake, thank you for looking after the boys and led them to stay safely during the time of living in darkness".

According to the BBC, the highly trained diver ran out of of oxygen during the 11 hour trip in and out of the cave and was unable to be revived by his diving partner. "Please tell Yod to take me out to a fried chicken shop", one boy said.

"We want you to know that no parents are angry with you at all, so don't you worry about that".

Another wrote: "Nick loves Mum and Dad and siblings".

Between the operating base manned by Thai Navy Seals inside the cave and the trapped boys are twisting, turning cave passageways with torrents of water gushing through.

"Night loves Dad and Mom and brother, don't worry about me. Although, don't forget to set up my birthday party", wrote another boy.

Another joked: "Teacher, don't give us lots of homework!"

"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine".

Technology guru Elon Musk, who is consulting on possible rescue methods, tweeted that he was considering "a tiny, kid-size submarine" for a rescue.

The rescue mission will continue until all of the stranded boys and their coach are safe, he said.

Rescuers have been unable to extend a hose pumping oxygen all the way to where the boys are, but have brought them some oxygen tanks.

Other messages written on pages from a notebook saw the boys send messages of reassurance to their anxious relatives.