Thai cave rescue: Remaining boys wait for operation to resume

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Complicated rescue: Local government officials said 13 foreign and five Thai divers are taking part in the long and unsafe operation to free the 12 young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach.

"Today is the D-day". As of last night, even the parents of the boys had not been told who had been rescued, one mother told our reporter Michael Safi.

The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game. Aged between 11 and 16 years, the boys were members of the Wild Boar soccer team.

A short official video released by the rescue operation late on Sunday showed four ambulances with their lights flashing driving up the muddy dirt track that leads to the cave complex.

He said the operation is going better than expected, and that the team would need about 10 hours to prepare for the next stage.

The entire nation is glued to the media coverage of the rescue mission, and Thai authorities have insisted they will not compromise on the safety of the trapped group.

Thai authorities earlier said that it could take days for the divers to rescue all the boys and the football coach.

"Clearly there is a huge risk of someone panicking if they are not used to the diving environment", Tony Haigh, a spokesman for the British Cave Rescue Council, which had two divers that found the boys, told the Post.

Initial euphoria over finding the boys alive quickly turned into deep anxiety as rescuers struggled to find a way to get them out.

Chiang Rai governor and operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said at a press conference Sunday that he had met the children and they were in "perfect" health.

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"We have a fraction of a second to help them come out", the governor said. "If we don't do it today we will lose our opportunity".

Between the base camp inside the cave and the trapped boys were twisting, turning cave passageways with torrents of water gushing through. Ropes have also been installed to help guide the boys through the darkness.

The four kids were taken out first because they were the weakest in terms of health, officials said.

Four of the 12 schoolboys trapped inside a cave in Thailand had their first breath of fresh air in two weeks after they were rescued in a dramatic operation.

It was initially thought the first four boys to make the journey would be those in the most resilient physical shape.

The potential for rising water and the dwindling oxygen levels added to the urgency of getting the team out.

One of the primary concerns will be the boys' exposure to a lack of oxygen, said Dr. Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee.

Experts say a rescue mission through a flooded cave is unsafe enough for professionals, let alone young boys who have never dived before.

The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.