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First 2 members of Thai soccer team recovered from cave

Rtv online desk
|  08 Jul 2018, 00:00 | Update : 08 Jul 2018, 18:56
The first two members of a Thai schoolboy soccer team have been rescued from the flooded cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, a local rescue official said on Sunday.

"Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave," Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai's health department and part of the rescue team, told Reuters.

"We are giving them a physical examination. They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet," Tossathep said.

Military helicopters are on standby to transport those recovered to a hospital about 60 kilometres away. The Associated Press reported two ambulances drove from the scene outside the cave to a nearby helipad and a helicopter was seen taking off.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they are gradually extracted. The operation began at 10 a.m. local time.

The entire operation to get all 13 out of the cave could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam.

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.

The only way to bring them out of Tham Luang Nang Non in Chiang Rai province is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air. A former Thai navy SEAL died while making the four-kilometre journey on Friday.

Experienced cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving, as the boys are. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

But the governor supervising the mission said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won't last if it rains again.

Before announcing that the rescue was underway, authorities ordered the throngs of media that have gathered at the cave from around the world to leave.

Source: CBC News.

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