A dramatic rescue operation is underway in a cave in Northern Thailand, after twelve soccer players and their coach were found alive, nine days after they went missing.
The cave, located in Chiang Rai province, had been full of rising floodwaters, posing a logistical challenge for the rescue teams trying to reach the team. The boys and their coach were found on Monday, in a rescue operation that the Thai government live streamed on Facebook.
Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said in a press conference on Monday that the boys, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, and their coach had been found, but the mission was not done yet.
“The first plan, we will drain all water out from the cave then we will take all 13 people out of the cave,” said Osottanakorn. “We are now planning how to send nurse and doctor to inside the cave to check their health and movement. We will work all night.”
The rescue operation had been in the works, and under an international media spotlight, since the boys went missing on June 23 and a park ranger noticed their bikes left behind after the park closed. The operation involved the Thai Royal Navy SEALS as well as experts from China, Australia and the United States. It was repeatedly delayed by heavy rains, and rescue teams had to use pumps to reduce the water level and guide ropes and air tanks to enter the cave.
Tham Luang cave is a popular tourist destination, known for its stalactites and limestone rock formations. The cave was not unknown to the boys, who had explored it before, according to CNN. They became trapped due to a sudden downpour when they reportedly ventured past signs warning tourists not to proceed further during rainy season.