Thailand cave rescue: Officials confirm operation underway

THAILAND: Thai authorities on Sunday announced that the operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach, stranded inside a cave in Chiang Rai, has begun.

The football team will be medically evaluated when they are out of the cave.

Several media reports stated that 13 foreigner and five Thai divers are particiapting in the rescue operation.

This comes barely a few days after attempts to rescue the footballers from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system were put on hold due to a rain forecast.

With heavy rains forecasted for the weekend, Governor Osottanakorn had then dismissed the idea of an immediate rescue, saying that efforts will be initiated only if the risk to the rescuers' lives were minimal.

The international rescue operation team included the Thai Navy Seals and experts from the US, China, Australia and the UK.

Medical teams will continue to monitor the boys' health even as they remain trapped inside the cave.

It is estimated that it would take five hours for even experienced divers to cross the four-kilometre stretch, with the UK divers who had first reached the stranded group stating that the dive was "gnarly" and full of tight passages submerged in low-visibility water.

On Friday, a Thai diver had died while attempting to rescue the trapped group.

The footballers who were found by British divers on late Monday night, with footage showing them visibly weak and huddled on a mud mound deep inside the cave.

They were trapped in the flooded cave for nine days before being found. Aged between 11 and 16 years, the boys were members of the Wild Boar soccer team.

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