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Posted by Khaosod English on Sunday, July 8, 2018

At least two boys have been successfully rescued from the flooded Luang cave Sunday afternoon.

In a triumph for an uncertain mission fraught with danger, initial reports said the unidentified children were able to walk out on their own feet to an ambulance after 16 days trapped in the dark and flooded cave complex.

The first boy walked out at 5:40pm and the second at 5:50pm. They are currently being evaluated at a medical tent.

No official announcement has been made and the news could not be immediately confirmed with tight-lipped officials.

THERE is no turning back for the Thai rescue mission with orders given to begin immediately extricating the 12 trapped boys and their coach from of the cave.

Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, overseeing the mission, said they had notified families of the plan to bring the boys out in pairs, each accompanied by two divers.

“Today is D-Day,” said the governor. “Their hearts are strong and determined. The boys are ready to face any challenges.”

In a press release issued about 9pm AEST, Narongsak issued a brief update:

“The operation began at 10am when 13 international divers entered the cave. Ten of them headed for chamber nine (where the boys are) and chamber six (near the junction) as planned,” he wrote.

“Another three cave divers performed their duty to support diving efforts beginning at 14.00.

There are a number of additional rescue personnel including divers, from Thailand, the US, Australia, China and Europe stationed from chamber 3 to the entrance. This includes a rope system to assist over difficult terrain in chambers two and three.”

He said it was uncertain when the first boys would reach the open air given the difficulty of the lengthy process – expected to take about 11 hours. It had been hoped they’d be out by midnight Australian time.

“Because of the complexity of the cave and difficulty of the operation. it is unknown how long it will take before the team can bring out the first batch of boys. The divers will work with medics in the cave to assess the boys’ health before determining who will come out first.”

It had been planned that four boys would make up the first group, with subsequent groups of three over the next few days. The coach was to be in the last group out.

Narongsak earlier said it was Australian medics who also entered the cave early on Sunday to evaluate the boys’ health and confirmed they were well enough to undertake the journey out.

He said the boys have been declared 100 per cent fit for the dive-swim-hike journey and they were as ready as they ever would be.

“Thirteen specialist foreign divers and five Thai SEAL divers are now going inside the cave (10am, Thailand time) to help the boys out,” he said.

“The children said they are ready to come out. They’re ready to join our mission. Family members know the mission, so we are already, physically and mentally.”

“The current situation, with the air and water levels and the boys’ health, is the best yet,” Narongsak warned.

“Though we have been looking for shafts to go to the place where the children are located, we have not found one. The new monsoon is coming.

“I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today,” he said.

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