Four Thai boys who made it out of cave in rescue are taken to hospital

Alive! Four Thai boys who made it out of cave in daring rescue are identified as their eight teammates and coach spend another night underground

  • Four members of the soccer team trapped inside a flooded Thai cave now brought out and taken to hospital 
  • Remaining eight boys and coach must wait until tomorrow to be saved, Thai Public Broadcast Service said 
  • The hazardous rescue operation to save 12 young Thai footballers from a flooded cave began this morning 
  • Eighteen divers have been sent in to complete the mission as officials said Sunday was ‘D-Day’ for the rescue 
  • The young footballers and their coach have been trapped in flooded caves in northern Thailand for 16 days 
  • As soon as the boys exit the cave they will be airlifted by helicopter or driven by ambulance to a local hospital 

Four of the 12 schoolboys trapped inside a cave in Thailand had their first breath of fresh air in two weeks after they were rescued in a dramatic operation.

The ‘masterpiece’ three-and-a-half-hour mission, led by expert British divers, saw the children being calmly guided to safety after 15 days of being stuck in their fetid underground prison.

Wearing full-face masks, the youngsters swam – for the first time in their lives – through miles of mud-clogged underwater tunnels which claimed the life of an elite Thai navy diver on Friday.

On finally emerging blinking into the daylight, the boys were hugged by their British rescuers.

They were tearfully reunited with their weeping parents – who have kept a desperate two-week vigil at the cave entrance – before being taken to hospital.

Saved: Prajak Sutham (left), 14, is also known as Note, and is known as a ‘quiet but sport-loving boy’. Right: Pipat Bodhi, 15

Nattawut ‘Tle’ Takamsai, 11, is thought to be among the four boys rescued, according to an official quoted in the Daily Beast

The first boy out was Monhkhol Boonpiam, 13, known as Mark. Eight other young players and their 25-year-old coach of the Wild Boars football team were chosen to remain in the cavern – half a mile deep – until tomorrow

The starved and exhausted players were carried on stretchers from an ambulance to a helicopter near the caves before being flown to hospital

Ambulances have been seen driving away from the cave complex and heading for hospital 35 miles away. The most seriously ill were flown in a military helicopter

Thai doctors and nurses are on standby for the arrival of children after being rescued from Tham Luang cave, at the hospital in Chiang Rai province

Images from Thai TV show the boys were being brought out on stretchers to a waiting helicopter after being helped out of the water with two divers per child

The young boys had been in the cave system for more than 15 days at the time of rescue – while eight will remain for another evening

The first boy out was Monhkhol Boonpiam, 13, known as Mark. The second boy was Prajak Sutham, known as Note.

Number three was Nattawoot Thakamsai, a 14-year-old asthma sufferer whose parents have already lost a baby daughter to cancer.

Lastly came Pipat Bodhu, 15, aka Nick, who was not even in the team but came along as a friend of the goalkeeper.

Eight other young players and their 25-year-old coach of the Wild Boars football team were chosen to remain in the cavern – half a mile deep – until tomorrow.

Commanders paused the mission overnight to replenish oxygen supplies and give the rescuers a break. But they remain ‘at war with water and time’ as torrential monsoon downpours deluged the Tham Luang cave, in the hilly jungle of northern Thailand, and threatened to flood it even further.

The young boys who have become trapped in a cave system in Chiang Rai province play for the same local football team

Four boys trapped in Thai cave were treated in the back of an ambulance as it drove them towards awaiting helicopters

An ambulance arrives at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, located 35 miles from the cave system. It’s not known how many kids are at the hospital so far

Another ambulance is seen arriving at the hospital where 35 emergency doctors are on standby waiting on the kids’ arrival

They said a combination of the weakest and the strongest boys had been selected to attempt yesterday’s perilous operation.

Last night, the Thai king led tributes to rescuers and the schoolboys as scenes of joyful weeping nationwide were shown on television. US President Donald Trump offered his congratulations.

Yesterday Note’s aunt told the Daily Mail he was a strong, caring, intelligent boy who dreamed of becoming a professional footballer, adding that he would be so excited by an offer from football chiefs to the World Cup final in Moscow that ‘he would punch the air’.

The mother of Mark, the first boy out, has always kept the faith. Namhom Boonpiam staunchly declared: ‘I believe he will survive.’ However, even after their ordeal is over, the children could still suffer post traumatic stress disorder, experts have warned.

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Their experience is expected to lead to nightmares, sleep problems, stomach and headaches and clinginess with parents, as well as getting angry and upset more easily.

Dr Andrea Dese, head of the stress and development lab at Kings College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: ‘In the longer term, most children will recover from the initial emotional symptoms.

A sizeable minority, 10 to 30 per cent, will however experience enduring mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD.’

Outside the cave entrance, there was still torment for the families of the boys left behind ‘until tomorrow or the next day’.

An ambulance headed to the Tham Luang caves to collect the first two boys who were alive and well after being rescued

Paramedics drove the boys to awaiting helicopters which flew 35 miles to the nearest hospital where doctors were on standby

Thai military personnel inside a cave complex during the ongoing rescue operations for the youth soccer team and their assistant coach, at Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park

Thousands of rescuers including Thai Navy SEALs and elite British divers have been working around the clock to come up with a plan to bring the exhausted and starved boys home safely

Over several tense hours, seven crack British cave divers hailed as the masters of their profession escorted the four schoolchildren through narrow, jagged tunnels.

With them were five other international divers and five Thai navy SEALS, and more than 70 other divers in support roles, 50 of whom were foreigners. The commander of yesterday’s operation, regional governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said as the operation commenced: ‘Today we are most ready. Today is D-Day.’ Fearing further flooding, he said the children, aged 11 to 16, might be stuck until January if they ignored yesterday’s chance.

He added: ‘Today we reached peak readiness – in terms of kids’ health, water and our rescue readiness. It has been our masterpiece work.’

Yesterday’s operation proceeded faster than expected thanks to the success of a pumping operation which has drained 190million litres from the cave network, making some parts walkable.

Coming home: The evacuation of 12 schoolboys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand has begun and they could be out by tonight, the rescue commander announced on Sunday morning 

Fresh oxygen canisters are being delivered to the mouth of the cave as oxygen levels in the depths of the cave are scarce 

Mr Osatanakorn said a one-mile passage from the cave entrance to the third chamber, a staging ground for the mission, was ‘mostly walkable’, adding: ‘Although there are some slightly difficult parts [where] we have to bend or crawl, we can say that we can just walk through it. We will have to do the next mission as successfully as the one we did today.’

The third teenager rescued from the cave was said to need immediate medical attention, and instead of being taken by ambulance he was airlifted to hospital straight from the cave mouth.

The less seriously ill boys went by road, with parts of the 45-mile route lined by traffic policemen.

Last night, the Thai navy SEALS posted a message to their Facebook page which said: ‘Have a good dream tonight. Night. Hooyah.’      

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