Thailand cave rescue: First boys rescued from trapped soccer team

A cave complex is seen after 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing in Mae Sai Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand Wednesday

Some took time on Sunday to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to ensure the boys had enough oxygen. However, there has been no official word on this so far.

Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than a fortnight were rescued on Sunday, authorities said, raising hopes elite divers would also quickly save the others. The boys' ordeal of the has drawn huge media attention in Thailand and overseas, and getting the boys out safely could be a boost for Thailand's junta ahead of a general election next year.

Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam said the 13 "will continuously come out in approximately two to four days, which all may change depending on weather and water conditions", The Associated Press earlier reported.

Ambulances transport boys rescued from Tham Luang Nang Non cave to hospital on July 8, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Two divers are helping each of the boys out as families wait nervously outside the cave entrance - 2.5 miles (4km) from where they were trapped.

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Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the unsafe mission to bring out the 12 boys and their coach earlier on Sunday.

After an initial assessment at the site, the boys will be airlifted to a makeshift helipad close to the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, some 70 km away.

Two divers will accompany one child as they stick to a cave line that stretches the entire mile and a half distance.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with the 25-year-old chaperone after soccer practice on 23 June as they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near the border with Myanmar.

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", Narongsak added Saturday. Osatanakorn said the rescue, which began at 10 a.m. Sunday local time, has been going better than expected.

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They are being rescued in groups.

His announcement, at a news conference more than an hour after helicopters and ambulances were seen rushing from the cave area, drew cheers and applause.

Rescuers have been working to lower the water level in the cave to prepare for an hours-long mission to retrieve the boys, ages 11 to 16, most of whom can't swim.

It's part of an effort to evacuate the 12 boys from the team along with their coach, in a rescue that has captured the world's attention, with reporters flocking to the scene and foreign divers arriving to assist.

The names of the four boys rescued from the caves last night have not been officially confirmed.

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Up on the hill, where rescuers are seeking alternative routes down into the cave, another accident occurred when a vehicle skidded off a dirt track, seriously injuring several people, authorities said.

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