4 Of The Thai Boys Trapped In A Cave Have Escaped. Here's How Rescue Divers Did It

Nine of them remain underground.

Cover image via Channel NewsAsia/Thai Navy Seal

Four Thai boys from a group of 13, who were trapped in a cave in Thailand, were finally freed on Sunday, 8 July

Image via Royal Thai Navy

The group, consisting of 12 Thai boys aged between 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach, went into Tham Luang cave after football practice. Unfortunately, they found themselves trapped inside as monsoon rains caused flood waters to rise within the cave.

After 10 days of living in the dark, rescue divers finally managed to find the boys alive and well. Rescue teams then set out to retrieve the group as safely and as quickly as possible, before predicted rains made it harder to reach them.

The boys have been in the cave for 16 days now, since they went in on 23 June.

In a recent turn of events, four of the boys were selected to begin the treacherous journey out of the cave together with rescue divers yesterday

Image via Thai Navy Seal

The four were chosen after the group went through a health assessment, said head of operation Narongsak Osottanakorn. He added that thankfully, the rescue mission went quicker than expected.

It previously took divers a round trip of about 11 hours to get in and out of the cave. However, yesterday, after nine hours, two boys finally emerged from the cave wearing full-faced waterproof diving masks - the masks allowed them to breath normally underwater.

Two more boys followed them out between 5.50pm - 7.50pm, reported Channel NewsAsia.

When the boys reached the surface, there was loud applause from onlookers and the team, who have been working tirelessly to save the group. The divers themselves turned around to hug each of the boys, before they were whisked off to a hospital in Chiang Rai.

Onlookers watched and cheered when the four boys emerged from the cave.

Image via Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

A team of 90 divers are currently working to rescue the remaining eight boys and their coach today

At the time of writing, divers are replenishing oxygen tanks along the route, to prepare for the next group of boys.

The journey in and out of the cave is no easy feat as the boys - who are weak swimmers - need to navigate through narrow passageways and swim through flooded channels no wider than a person. 

Image via Royal Thai Navy

"Communication in the water is extremely difficult," said Edd Sorenson, Safety Officer for National Speleological Society-Cave Diving Section.

"That's one of the things we teach in cave diving. There's no talking. So everything has to be done, usually by hand signals. But in zero visibility, it has to be touch contact," he told CBSN News.

Last week, the dangerous mission led to the death of former Thai Navy diver Saman Kunan

Kunan delivered air tanks in the cave, but lost consciousness on his journey back when he ran out of his own personal supply of oxygen.

Saman Kunan

Image via The Guardian

After resigning from the Thai Navy, he worked as a patrol officer in Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok since 2006. When he found out about the news, Kunan immediately volunteered to help bring the boys home.

According to The Guardian, a video showed him saying, "I am at Suvarnabhumi airport waiting to board the plane to join the mission in Chiang Rai.

"I'm accompanied by doctors from the navy and divers from SeaWorld that also donated lots of diving equipment. See you this evening. We will bring the kids home."

Thai Navy Seal officers paid tribute to Kunan, saying that he was skillful and talented Seal, and a triathlon athlete who loved adventurous sports.

"Even after he departed the Seal unit, he still kept in touch and maintained a tie with the rest of his former colleagues. His determination and good intention will always be in the heart of all SEAL brothers. Today, you get some good rest. We will complete the mission for you."

The boys' previously wrote these sweet letters to their loved ones, as their families wait in anticipation for their return:

Meanwhile, the whole world has been closely following the rescue mission, including some of these international football stars:

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