Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a risky and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.
"All conditions are still as good as they were yesterday", Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said tonight. Namhom Boonpiam, the mother of Mongkhol, said she had not been told whether her son had been rescued and taken to hospital and only learned he may have been freed from reports on social media.
Their disappearance triggered a massive global search and rescue operation involving officials, soldiers and volunteers from the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan and China, among others.
The 12 boys, all part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing with their coach more than two weeks ago.
Earlier another official had said six children had been taken out of the cave. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and unsafe plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.
Monsoon flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
Operations to rescue a trapped Thai soccer team began on Sunday, resulting in four rescues.
A team of more than 240 experts from around the world has been working on a plan to get the boys out since they were discovered alive in the cave system more than a week ago. A video from the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page showed the group several kilometers inside the 10-kilometer (6-mile) cave network on a small wedge of dry ground.
Already the operation has killed one diver, former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan.
He said the boys rescued Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.
The next operation for the rest is set to resume in 10-20 hours, with officials and volunteers buoyed by the fact that their method of rescuing the boys by diving has been successful so far, he said. "The boys are ready to face any challenges", rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters near the cave site on Sunday morning.
The daring and risky bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - was suspended by the mission chief late on Sunday to replenish oxygen supplies and make new preparations, which he said would take at least 10 hours.
The high-risk rescue dive began with a sense of urgency after authorities could not settle on an alternative means of bringing the boys out. Two others were brought out about two hours later.
Among those are United States military partners, British cave diving experts - including the two men who first located the boys a week ago - and rescue workers from Australia, China and other countries. An Australian doctor with cave diving experience examined the boys on Sunday and declared them fit for the operation.
But Narongsak said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation.
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Momentary celebrations quickly gave way to rising anxiety as it became clear that the rescue would necessarily be highly risky . Two divers helped each one make his way through dark, very narrow passages, some of which are filled with dirty water.
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