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Thai Soccer Team Boys Evacuated From Cave By Rescue Team

Thai Soccer Team Boys Evacuated From Cave By Rescue Team”

The boys and the coach will dive out of the cave one at a time, each accompanied by a member of a team of global and Thai divers.

The operation to bring them out of the cave, where they have been trapped for two weeks, has begun and the first of the group are expected to be freed from the cave at around 12am AEST.

His death highlights the very grave danger caused by conditions in the cave, where the situation can quickly worsen due to flooding.

Underscoring the risk, a former Thai elite navy diver died Friday morning after losing consciousness while returning from placing oxygen canisters in the cave.

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"Teacher, don't give us lots of homework!" read one. The acting Chiang Rai governor had said rescuers couldn't wait for ideal weather conditions because of several factors.

"We will not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste", he said.

The preparations indicated that officials have abandoned all extraction plans except for helping the boys to swim and dive the approximately 5km from their refuge inside the cave to the outside world. It could be hours before anyone emerges, a Thai army commander said, noting the rescue could take two to four days depending on conditions inside the partially flooded cave.

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are ideal (for evacuation) in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health", Narongsak told reporters. The boys, all members of a local soccer team called the Wild Boars, had been hiking in the caves when they became trapped by rain waters.

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The boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped in the complex cave system since June 23 by flooded passageways.

Officials had said earlier that helicopters were on standby to take anyone rescued from the cave to a hospital.

Their ordeal 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.

The Thai Navy said Saturday three navy SEALs, one a doctor, were with the boys and coach.

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If efforts over the next few days fail, authorities have not ruled out laying an oxygen line and leaving the boys inside the cave for months until monsoon rains clear. "We want to evacuate all 13 people as soon as possible but I don't want to specify any day and date", said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (above, at right).



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