Four Boys Have Been Rescued From Inside The Thai Cave

Eight boys and their coach are still trapped inside.

Four boys from a Thai football team have been rescued after 15 days trapped deep within a cave system in Chiang Rai — leaving behind eight boys and their coach as the rescue operation continues.

Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osattanakorn confirmed that four boys had emerged from the cave system, saying they are in “perfect” health. Osattanakorn would not confirm the identities of the boys, but it has been reported that the weakest boys were taken first.

“I would like to inform the public at home and those who have been giving us support all along, after 16 days, today’s the day we’ve been waiting for, we are seeing the Wild Boars in the flesh now,” Osattanakorn told media at the rescue site.

The rescue operation commenced on Sunday afternoon, as monsoonal rain threatened to further flood the cave, making a rescue impossible, and possibly depriving the boys of oxygen.

More than 90 divers were involved in the rescue operation, which will continue today.

How Are They Getting Out?

A team of more than 240 experts from around the world has been working on a plan to get the boys out since they were discovered alive in the cave system more than a week ago.

A team of Thai Navy SEAL divers reached the boys yesterday, and will guide them out four at a time using a guide rope and oxygen tanks. The rescue mission was made harder by the high diving skills required to navigate the caves.

The team is trapped more than four kilometres from the mouth of a cave, and a series of obstacles — including low-visibility water, extremely narrow passages and the boys’ inability to swim — stand between them and freedom. At some points, the boys will have had remove their oxygen kits to squeeze through tight areas.

Expert divers have spent the past week training the boys in basic diving. But rescuers were worried that that would not be enough: on Friday, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan died from lack of air within the cave complex.

To save time, rescuers have been manually pumping water out of the caves. As monsoon season heats up, some were worried that the rainwater would flood the caves and ruin any chances of survival.

To add even more time pressure onto the situation, there were worries that the boys were running out of oxygen. Dozens of holes were drilled into the top of the cave in an attempt to give the boys some fresh air, but no long-term solution had been figured out: in some places, 400 metres of solid rock separated the surface from the boys in the cave.

A Rescue Mission That’s Captivated The World

According to CNN, schoolchildren in Mae Sai became excited when they heard that even Elon Musk had announced that he would lend a hand to the rescue mission.

Musk’s involvement (if not exactly necessary) shows exactly how widespread offers for help have been. Divers, engineers, meteorologists and cave experts travelled from all over the world to advise the mission.

In letters sent to their parents from inside the cave, the boys apologised — and asked for less homework and more fried chicken when they came out.

On Saturday, FIFA announced that it would offer the boys free tickets to the football World Cup final, if they were out in time.

Max Koslowski contributed to this report.