All 12 members of a boys soccer team and their coach now have been safely rescued from a cave in Thailand after being trapped there for 18 days, the Thai Navy SEALs announced Tuesday morning in a Facebook post.
The first boy to emerge from the cave complex on Monday was seen on a stretcher just before 4:30 pm local time.
But Thai officials, acutely aware that the boys could be trapped for months by monsoon rains that would swell waters in the cave system, seized a window of opportunity provided by relatively mild weather. All have now been transferred to hospital.
Officials there reported the first four rescued can now stand up and walk, but they can't go far.
The acting governor of Chiang Rai state, Narongsak Osottanakorn, led the rescue operation. The route, in some places just a crawl space, had oxygen canisters positioned at regular intervals to refresh each team's air supply. The rescue mission is still underway. British divers found the 13, huddled on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometers inside the complex, on Monday last week.
Since the operation started, the area outside the cave's entrance has filled with media, volunteers and onlookers.More news: Belgium's Romalu Lukaku: My game is about more than scoring goals
Two of the boys are thought to have lung infections, but there are no serious complaints to report.
In the past two days, eight boys were rescued and are now in a hospital isolation ward while they are tested for any possible infections.
Even as a massive operation is underway to rescue the remaining members of the Thai soccer team trapped in a flooded cave, a diver involved with the mission highlighted the risks involved in carrying out the rescue. He added that all of them were generally healthy and in good spirits, thanks to their "high immunity" from playing football.
He said, "the kids are footballers so they have high immune systems".
TRANQUILLIZERS AND QUARANTINE Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited the cave on Monday, said the boys had been given tranquillizers to stop them getting stressed on the way out of the cave, but he dismissed any suggestion they had been "sedated".
Families of the first four have been able to see their children through a glass window, Chokedamrongsook said.
Thought their harrowing ordeal scored them an invitation from Federation Internationale de Football Association to attend the World Cup final in Russia, the rescued Wild Boars soccer team will not be able to attend the match.
Rescuers need to hold the boys' oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes.