Four people were rescued Sunday from a flooded cave in Thailand where they were trapped for 16 days. The team of divers is expected to resume the mission Monday to rescue the remaining eight boys and their soccer coach.
The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game. Monsoon flooding blocked off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.
The four who were rescued were taken to a hospital in Chiang Rai for evaluation. Two divers were assigned to each child to help them navigate the dangerous, narrow passageways. The next phase could begin Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route. It could take two to four days complete the mission, officials said.
On Friday, the death of a former Thai navy SEAL underscored the risks. 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.
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created the “perfect” conditions for an underwater evacuation. Those conditions won’t last if the rain resumes, he said.
Heavy rain started falling as soon as the four were removed from the cave. Narongsak said experts told him the new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to 108 square feet.