Thai Governor Says Cave Rescue Has Begun For Trapped Soccer Team

Thai Governor Says Cave Rescue Has Begun For Trapped Soccer Team
International rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach trapped by flood waters Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. With more rain coming, Thai rescuers are racing against time to pump out water from a flooded cave before they can extract 12 boys and their soccer coach with minimum risk, officials said. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A Thai governor says the operation to bring out 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach from deep inside a cave where they have been trapped for two weeks has begun after conditions improved overnight with lower than expected rainfall.

The acting Chiang Rai governor has told reporters “today is D-Day” with 13 foreigner and five Thai divers taking part in the rescue.

He says the divers went in at 10 a.m. and the boys will gradually come out one by one accompanied by two divers each. He says the earliest the first boy will come out is 9 p.m. local time on Sunday (10 a.m. ET).

The whole rescue operation may take three to four days, said an army spokesperson and the mission plan will still depend on the weather.

The only way to bring them out is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air.

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.

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