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As it happenedended1530608161

As it happened: 12 Thai boys and teacher found alive after nine days in cave

National news has been dominated by updates on the search for 12 boys and their football coach

Boys found alive in cave in Thailand

Rescuers have found the 12 boys and their football coach who have been missing inside a flooded mountain cave in northern Thailand for more than a week.

“They are all safe, but the mission is not completed, local Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said. "Our mission is to search, rescue and return, so far we just found them. Next mission is to bring them out from the cave and send them home.“

The Chiang Rai governor said experts would continue to drain the waters out of the cave while sending doctors and nurses to dive in to check the health of the boys and their coach.

“If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave,” he said. “We will look after them until they can return to school.“

Divers from a Thai navy SEAL unit were within 500 metres of a chamber containing an elevated rock where they boys might have sought refuge.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach entered Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province on 23 June, when heavy rains flooded key passages of the cave and blocked the way out.

National news has been dominated by updates from the search, which involves more than 1,000 personnel, including rescue teams from Britain, the United States and elsewhere.

Progress towards a rescue was slow, as muddy water having risen to fill sections of the cave and forced the divers to withdraw for safety reasons.

When water levels dropped Sunday, divers went forward with a more methodical approach, deploying a rope line and extra oxygen supplies along the way.

Doctors have said the boys could survive for days without food, they needed to find water clean enough to drink.

In addition to the divers, teams have been working to pump out water as well as divert groundwater.

Other efforts have focused on finding shafts on the mountainside which might serve as a back door to the blocked-off areas where the missing may be sheltering.

Teams have been combing the mountainside looking for fissures which might lead to such shafts.

Several have been found and explorers have been able to descend into some, but so far it is not clear whether they lead to anywhere useful.

Additional reporting by agencies

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 11:57

Thai navy SEALs said in a Facebook post early on Monday that divers had reached a bend where the half-mile-long passage splits in two directions.

The divers are aiming for a sandy chamber on higher ground in the cave, where they believe the group would be safe. 

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 12:12

Progress has been slow as divers need to widen parts of a narrow 100 metre stretch they were unable to pass through without their air cylinders becoming jammed.

"This is today's aim is to widen this hole," Chiang Rai's governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, told reporters on Monday.

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 12:27

Heavy seasonal rains have hampered the search operation, with divers groping their way along the cave walls, barely able to see in the muddy water, but the pumps had helped to bring down water levels in recent days.

Mr Narongsak said an operations centre has been set up in the third chamber, about a mile from entrance to the cave.

"Yesterday we carried in 200 air cylinders. Today we aim to have 600 air cylinders in the cave, so the team can operate and stay in the cave without coming out," he said.

Once more personnel are in place, a search will also be made of the right turn at the T-junction, he added.

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 12:44

At Mae Sai Prasitsart school, where six of the missing boys studied, special prayers were held for the junior soccer team during the morning assembly on Monday, Reuters reports.

"I hope all the spirits that we cannot see please help us by releasing the 13 people who are our friends and our brothers," teacher Takkapong Thammarangsi said as he led the prayers.

Pansa Namyi, 15, said he shared a love of sports with his friend who was among the missing.

"I want to tell him that I am waiting," Pansa said.

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 13:59

Rescue divers have spent much of Monday making preparations for what is hoped will be a final push in their search for the 12 boys and their football coach.

They have been missing for more than a week in a cave in northern Thailand. 

Chiang Rai's provincial governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said the divers concentrated on securing a rope line and placing oxygen tanks along the narrow passageway they think will lead them to the boys, in Tham Luang cave.

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 14:36

"In theory, human beings can last 30 days [without food]," Mr Narongsak told reporters. "We hope and believe that is the case. We all still have hope." 

He said it was expected that in their condition, the boys would at first not be able to move their limbs, but medical teams would initially treat them in place.

He said the diving teams included doctors who were already inside the cave. 

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 14:53

"These are challenging conditions and there's a lot of consideration for safety as well as, the environment outside is contributing to the environment inside," said US Air Force Captain Jessica Tait, who is part of a 30-strong US military team assisting in the search operation, referring to the rain that has been flooding the cave.

"So I'd say, yeah, it's an accurate statement that it's challenging."

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 15:10

Public anticipation for a rescue has been high since Sunday, but officials have avoided setting a timetable for the search and rescue operation, although they remain publicly optimistic.

Samuel Osborne2 July 2018 15:35

Teams have been combing the mountainside looking for fissure that might lead to shafts that could lead to currently blocked-off areas. Several have been found and explorers have been able to descend into some, but so far it is not clear whether they lead anywhere useful.

Steve Anderson2 July 2018 16:27

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