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asia Thai cave rescue: Four boys emerge after weeks trapped in dark

Sunday - 08/07/2018 14:47

FOUR of the schoolboys trapped in a Thai cave have been rescued from the flooded system, but nine people remain inside.

FOUR of the boys who were trapped in a flooded Thai cave system for two weeks have made it to safety after a perilous journey, but nine people remain underground.

The first two emerged from Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand at 5.40pm and 5.50pm Sunday local time (8.40pm and 8.50pm AEST), less than eight hours after the rescue began at 10am.

The third and fourth boy came out at 7.40pm and 7.50pm.

The divers hugged the young soccer players after helping them escape the dank, dark cave complex.

The boys received treatment at the scene before they were evacuated to hospital in Chiang Rai province by ambulance and helicopter.

Officials said on Sunday night that the extraordinary operation would now pause for ten to 20 hours to assess next steps, check equipment and refill oxygen tanks stationed along the dangerous route.

Four of the 12 schoolboys have been rescued from Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai. Eight boys and their soccer coach are still trapped.
Four of the 12 schoolboys have been rescued from Tham Luang cave at the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Mae Sai. Eight boys and their soccer coach are still trapped.Source:Supplied

 

Onlookers watch and cheer as ambulances deliver the boys rescued from the cave in northern Thailand to hospital in Chiang Rai. Picture: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
Onlookers watch and cheer as ambulances deliver the boys rescued from the cave in northern Thailand to hospital in Chiang Rai. Picture: Lauren DeCicca/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

 

The rescued boys were taken to hospital by ambulance or helicopter after they were stranded for two weeks in the flooded cave complex. Picture: AFP Photo / Lillian Suwanrumpha
The rescued boys were taken to hospital by ambulance or helicopter after they were stranded for two weeks in the flooded cave complex. Picture: AFP Photo / Lillian SuwanrumphaSource:AFP

 

 
Officials said on Sunday evening that the rescue operation would go on hold for 10 to 20 hours while oxygen tanks are refilled. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images
Officials said on Sunday evening that the rescue operation would go on hold for 10 to 20 hours while oxygen tanks are refilled. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The first boy to emerge was named by local media as Mongkol Boonpium, 13, and the second as Prachuck Sutham, 14, but Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osattanakorn would not confirm who had been rescued.

He said a doctor had determined the order of evacuations, with the strongest leaving first.

The 12 schoolboys, aged 11 to 16, were trapped in the cave by floodwaters on June 23, after apparently entering to scratch their names on a cave wall as part of an initiation rite.

Eight of the boys and their soccer coach, 25, remain there, with torrential rain pouring down on the town of Mae Sai making their rescue ever more challenging.

“Today was the best situation in terms of kids’ health, water and our rescue readiness,” said Mr Narongsak in a press conference on Sunday evening.

“Four have been rescued. We consider that a great success.”

He said the operation had been executed hours earlier than expected, but warned the dangerous rescue was far from over.

“Our job is not completely done. We will have to do the next mission as successfully as the one we did today. The rest of the kids are in the same spot.

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