Four Thai boys are the first to be successfully rescued from a flooded cave hours after a complex and dangerous rescue mission commenced, according to Thai navy SEALS.
A spokesperson for the rescue operation told CNN that it would take multiple attempts to rescue all those trapped in the cave. After extracting the four boys, the rescuers’ resources, such as oxygen, were tapped out and the team was forced to temporarily terminate the mission.
Officials said it could take up to four days to complete the rescue of the remaining eight boys and their soccer coach.
Early Sunday morning, Thai cave divers launched a mission to extract the children and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang cave, who have been trapped underground for more than two weeks.
Officials are unsure how long the operation to rescue the boys, between the ages of 11 and 16, along with their 25-year-old coach, will take to complete.
Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit are trying to bring the rest of the boys – some who are weak swimmers and as young as 11 – through narrow, submerged passageways that claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver this past Friday.
Chiang Rai province, acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn is heading the rescue operation, and told reporters that the divers will accompany each boy as they’re extracted from the cave.
Two ambulances were seen leaving the cave in northern Thailand hours after the operation began to rescue the trapped young soccer players. It was unclear who was inside the ambulances or the helicopter. Officials did not immediately comment.
U.S. President Donald Trump also tweeted about the rescue Sunday morning, congratulating the U.S. government for working with the Thai government to help get all of the children out of the cave safely.
The boys and their coach became stranded when they went exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.
-With files from Reuters, the Associated Press and the Canadian Press