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Cave Rescue: Final Push Under Way In Thailand

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Nineteen divers have entered the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand on a gruelling, hazardous mission to rescue those people still trapped inside.

They extracted a ninth boy on Tuesday, the Thai Navy said, with unconfirmed reports of two more.

If confirmed, one child and an adult remain to be rescued, bringing to a close an epic operation marred by one diver’s death.

Eight boys rescued earlier are said to be in good mental and physical health.

The group, a football team, had got stuck deep inside on 23 June after heavy rains caused flooding.

After they were found by divers last week, huddled in darkness on a ledge and cut off from the outside world for nine days, the race began to get them out before the weather deteriorated even further.

The boys evacuated so far have undergone X-rays and blood tests. They will remain under observation in hospital for at least seven days.

A doctor and Thai Navy Seal divers have been looking after those still on the ledge, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave’s mouth.

How is the latest mission unfolding?

It kicked off just after 10:00 local time (03:00 GMT) when the 19 divers made their way into the cave.

Rain was falling but rescuers say the water level inside the cave is similar to that on Sunday, the first day of the operation, an official said.

How are they being rescued?

A team of 90 expert divers – 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas – have been working in the caves.

They have been guiding the boys through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.Graphic showing how the boys leave the cave

Getting to and from where the boys are has been an exhausting round trip, even for the experienced divers.

The process includes a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes already in place.

Wearing a full-face mask, which are easier for novice divers than traditional respirators, each boy is being accompanied by two divers, who also carry his air supply.

Graphic showing how the boys leave the cave

Getting to and from where the boys are has been an exhausting round trip, even for the experienced divers.

The process includes a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes already in place.

Wearing a full-face mask, which are easier for novice divers than traditional respirators, each boy is being accompanied by two divers, who also carry his air supply.

The toughest part is about halfway out at a section named “T-Junction”, which is so tight the divers have to take off their air tanks to get through.

Beyond that a cavern – called Chamber 3 – has been turned into a forward base for the divers.

There the boys can rest before making the last, easier walk out to the entrance. They are then taken to hospital in Chiang Rai.

A map of cave system where a group of Thai schoolboys are trapped

In an indication of how dangerous the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday. Saman Gunan was returning from a mission to provide the group with air tanks when he ran out of oxygen.

The rescue mission chief said the second day of the operation had gone more smoothly than the first, taking two hours less as the procedure became more refined.

A massive pumping operation is said to have helped lower the water level inside the cave system, making the journey in and out easier than it was.

Aged between about 11 and 17, the boys belong to a football club called the Wild Boars, and became trapped during an excursion with their coach.

Source: BBC

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