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Four boys rescued from flooded Thai cave

11 July 2018

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

Twelve boys - aged 11-16- and their coach have been trapped in the caves for two weeks near Chang Rai as rescuers carefully watched the weather.

Officials said at a news conference that the parents of the rescued boys, whose names have not been released, have not yet been allowed to have physical contact with them, pending more extensive examination of their physical condition.

Shortly before 8 p.m., the Thai navy SEALs reported on their official Facebook page that four had been rescued.

"But we have to evaluate all factors", operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters.

Gong Hui, a Chinese diver involved in the operation that has drawn some 130 Thai and worldwide divers, told Reuters on Saturday before the fresh rains that water levels in the cave had "receded a lot" after sustained pumping had removed millions of liters of water. The rescue mission was made harder by the high diving skills required to navigate the caves.

The boys and their coach hiked more than two miles into the cave after soccer practice on June 23.

In a tweet Sunday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump said, "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".

After a short deluge of rain on Saturday night and with worse weather forecast, Narongsak on Sunday said authorities had to act immediately.

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The rest of the rescues were put on hold Sunday night while air tanks and other systems are refilled.

"All conditions are still as good as they were yesterday", Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said tonight. The team of young soccer players, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach were stranded in the caves for almost 10 days due to flooding and their constantly evolving rescue has continued to make news headlines around the world.

The cave system, in a limestone mountain range bordering Myanmar in northern Thailand, has proven to be a formidable challenge for the worldwide rescue coalition, drawing some of the world's best divers who have volunteered to help in the operation alongside Thai Navy Seals.

The operation, which started on Sunday morning, will take two to three days to complete, as each round trip from the rescue camp in the cave to the site where the boys and their coach are located takes 11 hours.

The rescue has captured the world's attention, and many have offered their ideas on how to get the team out.

Thai officials said Saturday they are anxious that heavy monsoon rain could soon make the job even more hard and they may need to quickly rescue the boys and the soccer coach from a partially flooded cave by helping them make risky dives to safety. The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

Rescuers brought out the last five on stretchers, one by one over the course of Tuesday, and they were taken by helicopter to hospital. He has also thanked worldwide experts who helped find the boys.

"Six of them came out", a defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

Four boys rescued from flooded Thai cave