Rescue efforts for boys trapped in Thai cave begin

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Of the 13-strong foreign dive team - mainly from Europe - three escorted the children, while the remainder were positioned along the risky first kilometre stretch, where the boys had to navigate through submerged passageways in some places no more than two feet (0.6 metre) wide.

Precautions are being taken to keep the boys from spreading infections they might have developed.

Rescuers in northern Thailand on Sunday extracted at least four members of a youth soccer team from the cave where they had been trapped for more than two weeks, part of an ongoing operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach, officials said.

"Today is the D-day".

Rescue operation commander Narongsak Osottanakorn told a news conference that he is very happy to see the four more boys rescued safely.

The boys and their coach went exploring in the massive Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after a soccer practice, and were cut off when a rainstorm flooded the cave.

He confirmed that the boys traveled 1km underwater and the first was rescued at 5:40 p.m. local time. The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

"I mean, we're a big country and Thailand is a small country".

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After a short deluge of rain on Saturday night and with more wet weather forecast later on Sunday, Mr Narongsak said authorities had to act immediately.

"It pretty much rains all day, sometimes every day or maybe every other day, it just depends on the area where you are at", said Guerrero. "If we don't do it today we will lose our opportunity".

The water in the cave is muddy and unclear, with one diver comparing it to a cafe latte. Ropes were installed to help guide the boys through the darkness.

"The water level has reached the lowest it has been in ten days". Most of the boys don't swim.

More than 100 exploratory holes were also bored-some shallow, but the longest 400 metres deep- into the mountainside in an attempt to open a second evacuation route and avoid forcing the boys into the risky dive.

Engineers from SpaceX and The Boring Company are in Thailand assisting the government's rescue mission. That along with dwindling oxygen levels, added to the urgency of getting the team out. Reports say the soccer team and their coach had visited the cave a few years ago.

Another concern for the remaining boys is their health and conditioning to make the arduous trip after nine days without food before they were found by navy divers.

"Football's Coming Home. First Wild Boars Out", a headline on one online Thai paper said on Monday, referring to a song chanted by English soccer fans at the World Cup now underway in Russian Federation. "Based on the complexity and difficulty of the cave environment it is unknown how long it might take and how many children would exit the cave", the governor further explained.