Thirteen medical teams – each with its own ambulance and helicopter – await the boys and their coach, according to Reuters. The interior minister Anupong Paojinda was noted saying that officials are meeting on Monday morning to plan the next stage of the operation in order to rescue the remaining 9 students from the cave.
The first four boys who were trapped in the cave in Thailand have been rescued and are in “perfect” health.
The next operation will begin in 10 to 20 hours and will involve 90 divers, he said. “And we will do it faster because we are afraid of the rain”.
The only way to extract them is by navigating 2.5 miles of dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air.
One early potential plan was to leave them there for months until the monsoon season ended and the floods subsided completely, but that idea was scrapped over concerns about falling oxygen levels and waters rising too high. The first four rescued youths surfaced around 12pm GMT (7am ET) and were immediately taken to hospital to receive treatment.
Narongsak says the rescue mission was launched because floodwaters inside the cave are at their most optimal level. In addition to treatment areas, the hospital will also provide reunion rooms for the young boys and their families. Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, the governor said.
The team became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the cave after soccer practice and rains flooded the tunnels, trapping them inside. A massive worldwide search operation was launched and it took 10 days to locate the boys, who had taken shelter on a dry slope deep in the complex.
He confirmed that a medic and all navy SEAL divers involved in the rescue mission had also left the cave safely. The most problematic section of the trip has been revealed to be halfway out and named the “T-Junction” sue to the fact that it is so small divers are forced to remove their air tanks to pass it.
The next phase of the operation would start Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route to ensure the safety of the journey, which takes several hours.
The Facebook page for the Thai Navy SEALs has been posting updates on the effort.
The local government said in a statement later on Sunday that 10 worldwide divers had progressed into the cave and some had reached the point where the team is.
“We have a fraction of a second to help them come out”, the governor said.
13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs are working in pairs to guide the boys, aged 11-16, through the cave’s winding chambers.
Divers are guiding the boys in darkness through tight and hard passageways.
The first, almost 1km-long section from where the boys have been huddling in darkness is believed to be the most hard, requiring a long dive and crawling through mud and debris, with some crevices barely wide enough for a person.