Four of the twelve boys trapped in the Tham Luang Caves in Thailand were successfully rescued today. Ten divers accompanied the boys throughout the journey, “[hugging] the boys beneath them while they were wearing masks,” the head of search operations, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told the . “Today, everything was very smooth. We have been practicing for the past three to four days, rain or shine.”
The twelve boys were part of a soccer team called the Wild Boars, and became trapped with their soccer coach after a flood on June 23rd. The rescue began at 10AM this morning. Thirteen cave divers and five Thai Navy SEAL divers were part of the attempt, bringing out one boy at a time.
To escape, the boys have to travel across long, flooded passageways, with some opening that are only three feet wide. It can take even experienced divers up to six hours to escape. For the boys aged 11 to 16, most of whom can’t swim, it’s an even bigger challenge. Rescuers have also been concerned about the dwindling oxygen levels inside the cave, which have been at about 15 percent. Oxygen levels that get even lower can cause negative effects, including hypoxia, which can make even basic actions become difficult and extreme cases can be fatal. A Thai commander estimated that a complete rescue mission to bring out all the boys would take two to four days.
The recent rains of the monsoon season has made the rescue more urgent: flooding could seriously endanger the boys and further rescue attempt. Previously, on Friday, an ex-Navy Seal diver had died in a rescue attempt.
Meanwhile, locals in the towns near the caves are rejoicing as the first of the boys make their way to hospitals where they’ll be accessed and treated. The rescue mission for the remaining boys and the coach will continue after a break of at least ten hours to replace air tanks and equipment.