MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) – Thai Navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their coach rescued from cave, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 2 weeks.
Here is a day-by-day look at the ordeal of 12 boys and their soccer coach, who were trapped deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand for more than two weeks:
June 23: After a morning practice, 12 members of the local Wild Boars youth soccer team bicycle with their 25-year-old coach to the Tham Luang Nang Non cave to explore, when heavy rains begin. When none of the boys return home after dark and cannot be contacted, parents report them as missing. Their bicycles are found parked and locked at the cave entrance as a search begins around midnight.
June 24: Search and rescue teams comprising local authorities, police and rescue workers find soccer shoes and backpacks left behind by the boys near the cave entrance.
June 25: As the search expands, handprints and footprints thought to belong to the boys are found farther from the cave entrance. Parents holding a vigil outside begin prayer sessions.
June 26: About a dozen Thai navy SEALs and others searchers penetrate the cave, but Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda tells reporters they are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to their ceilings.
June 27: More heavy rainfall stymies search efforts, flooding underground passages faster than water can be pumped out. A U.S. military team and British cave experts, along with several other private teams of foreign cavers, join the operation.
June 28: Efforts begin to drain groundwater from the cave by drilling from outside into the mountain. A search for other entrances to the cave intensifies as diving is temporarily suspended for safety reasons.
June 29: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visits the cave site and urges relatives of the missing not to give up hope. Efforts to drain the cave with pumps make little progress.
June 30: The effort to locate the missing picks up pace again, as a break in the rain eases flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world, including Australia and China, join the rescue mission. In anticipation of finding the boys, an evacuation drill is held to practice how they will be sent to a hospital after leaving the cave.
July 1: Rescue divers advance into the main passageway inside the flooded cave and set up a staging area inside. Thai navy SEALs reach a bend where the kilometer- (half-mile-) long passage splits in two directions.
July 2: Two expert British cave divers locate the missing boys and their coach. They record video of the boys talking with them.
July 3: The videos are released and show the boys taking turns introducing themselves, folding their hands together in a traditional Thai greeting and saying their names. The boys also say they are healthy.
July 4: Seven navy SEALs and a doctor join the boys with food and medicine. Options are discussed about whether the boys should be taken out of the cave with divers soon or kept in place until conditions improve.
July 5: The boys continue with diving lessons in case a decision is made to extract them through a route that is partially underwater. The effort to pump out water in increased.
July 6: Officials indicate that they favor extracting the boys as soon as possible, fearing further danger if they are forced to stay inside by more rain causing additional flooding. Concern increases about falling oxygen levels inside the cave. A former navy SEAL aiding the rescue effort dies from a lack of oxygen during his mission.
July 7: Officials suggest that an underwater evacuation will be made in the following few days because of predictions of a rainstorm. However, they say the boys’ diving skills are not yet where they need to be.
July 8: The official heading the rescue operation declares that “D-Day” has arrived as he announces the start of the operation to bring the boys and their coach out of the cave. Divers take four of the boys out through tight passages and flooded caverns.
July 9: Divers take four more boys to safety during the second day of the rescue operation. This leaves four boys and their coach still inside the cave.
July 10: On the third day of the rescue operation, divers bring out the remaining four boys and their coach, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks.
MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) – Divers are carrying out what they hope is a final mission to save four boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than two weeks, the rescue leader said Tuesday, as health experts gave the eight already brought out a chocolate treat and described them as being in good spirits.
At mid-afternoon, an ambulance was seen leaving the cave site. Officials in the previous two days have not confirmed rescues until the day’s operation is over.
Chiang Rai Gov.Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday’s intricate and high-risk operation began just after 10 a.m. and involves 19 divers. A medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave will also come out, he said.
“We expect that if there is no unusual condition … the four boys, one coach, the doctor, and three SEALs who have been with the boys since the first day will come out today,” he told a news conference to loud cheering.
Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions. The first and longest mission took 11 hours.
The eight boys brought out by divers over the previous two days are in “high spirits” and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players, a senior health official said.
Doctors were being cautious because of the infection risk and were isolating the boys in the hospital. They did get a treat, however: bread with chocolate spread that they’d requested.
The plight of the boys and their coach has riveted Thailand and much of the world – from the heart-sinking news they were missing to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys when they were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers. They were trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave that became flooded by monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a soccer practice on June 23.
At a news conference, Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can’t yet take the spicy dishes favored by many Thais.
Two of the boys possibly have a lung infection but all eight are generally “healthy and smiling,” he said.
“The kids are footballers so they have high immune systems,” Jedsada said. “Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out. But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them.”
It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Jedsada told a news conference.
Family members have seen at least some of the boys from behind a glass isolation barrier, and Jedsada said doctors may let the boys walk around their beds Tuesday.
It was clear doctors were taking a cautious approach. Jedsada said they were uncertain what type of infections the boys could face “because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave.”
If medical tests show no dangers, after another two days parents will be able to enter the isolation area dressed in sterilized clothing and staying 2 meters away from the boys, said Tosthep Bunthong, Chiang Rai Public Health Chief.
The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14.
At least nine ambulances and a convoy of other vehicles were at the cave site Tuesday.
Heavy rains in the morning cleared during the day, a reassuring sign for rescuers who have feared monsoon rains could imperil the rescue.
Officials scotched any chance of using tech billionaire Elon Musk’s mini-sub made of rocket parts to rescue the remaining boys.
Narongsak said he was grateful for Musk’s support but the equipment was impractical for the rescue mission.
Musk on Tuesday visited the cave and posted pictures and videos online. He said he left the equipment there in case rescuers could use it in the future.