First boys emerge from cave

Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23 in Mae Sai Chiang Rai province northern Thailand

The operation began just hours after the group was reported missing but the heavy rains slowed down the search.

It was not clear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter.

With oxygen levels dropping to 30 percent and approaching monsoon rains, authorities made a decision to rescue the boys, Chiang Rai Province Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said at a press conference.

The story of the "Wild Boars" soccer team, who first ventured into the caves more than two weeks ago before flood waters trapped them inside, has gripped Thai and global media. All four boys were said to be in "perfect" condition, and safely transported to a hospital. It takes several hours. "The rescue team sets its own plan", he said.

For now, the rescue operation is scheduled to resume on Monday, although it remains uncertain whether or not that will be possible.

The first members of a youth soccer team trapped with their coach in a flooded cave in northern Thailand have been rescued and are on their way to the hospital, local officials said on Sunday. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route.

The four boys were among 12 members of the Wild Boars team, ages 11-16, who ventured deep into the cave along with their 25-year-old coach on June 23.

The eight boys brought out on Sunday and Monday were in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said earlier.

Reports emerged that the trapped boys did not know how to swim. He also pointed out that "runoff from rainfall around the cave area will likely be higher, raising the risk of rain entering the cave, raising water levels and increasing the flood threat".

Rescue workers take out machines after 12 soccer players and their coach were rescued in Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 10, 2018.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.

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The rescuers needed at least 10 hours to prepare for their next operation, involving about 90 divers in total, 50 of them from foreign countries, he said.

"Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull".

On Sunday, Musk tweeted a series of videos showing a team of divers testing the pod in the swimming pool at Palisades Charter High School. If the tests are successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand.

Plans to rescue the remaining boys are temporarily on hold as rescuers replenish air tanks in the cave system.

The unsafe mission, which required rescuers to traverse flooded, narrow cave passageways, already claimed the life of a former member of Thailand's elite Navy diving team.

Sam Teller, spokesman for Boring Co., said Sunday that the company has four engineers who are "offering support in any way the government deems useful".

"I want to tell the coach thank you so much for helping the boys survive this long", said one Chiang Rai woman wearing a traditional dress, tears brimming in her eyes.

Experienced cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving, as the boys are.

The rescue operation is underway as 5 of the boys are still trapped.

Adding to the theory is the relatively short time it took to retrieve the four boys from the cave because of the lower water levels, which meant they could wade through some sections of the underground labyrinth instead of diving.

The entire group had been trapped for more than two weeks.

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