The Thai Navy SEAL-led rescue team has successfully freed four more members of the Thai soccer team that has been trapped for more than two weeks inside a flooded cave complex in Thailand's Chiang Rai region, according to Dow Jones, Reuters and CNN. Former Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn, who is in charge of the operation, said the boys' rescue involved many of the same divers who brought the four boys out Sunday. A fifth boy was seen leaving the cave early Monday local time, then three more were brought out over the course of the day.
Officials said Sunday that it will likely take days to free all 12 boys and their coach from the cave, where they are trapped on a muddy ledge 2.5 miles inside a winding cave network that features a "choke point" roughly 15 inches wide that's nearly impossible to navigate with oxygen tanks. Rescuers are scrambling to complete the rescue mission before rains in the forecast flood the cave even further. Five boys and their coach remain stuck inside the cave.
The 12 boys, who are part of a soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing more than two weeks ago following an initiation ritual gone horribly wrong. They were discovered roughly one week ago by two British volunteer divers, who found them huddled along a narrow rock shelf deep inside the cave system. Authorities have refused to release names to the media.
Officials said Sunday that it could take days to free all 12 boys and their coach - and that's assuming no more rainfall in the meantime. Skies were clear on Monday, but the forecast is calling for rain for the next three days. According to CNN, the initial rescues went faster than the practice drills over the last few days. Previously, the round trip through the cave took roughly 11 hours.
The rescue mission has morphed into a huge operation led by the Royal Thai Navy's SEAL unit and supported by hundreds of people, including US military partners and UK cave diving experts.
Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken time away from trying to ramp up Model 3 production to try and devise a rescue technique that would involve a "kid-sized" submarine. Musk tweeted updates from a high school pool in LA, in what some have criticized as Musk once again exploiting a tragedy for the marketing potential
Simulating maneuvering through a narrow passage pic.twitter.com/2z01Ut3vxJ— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
While Musk has no plans to travel to Thailand, 13 foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit are guiding the boys to safety through narrow, submerged passageways. The perilous trip claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday, who ran out of oxygen and lost consciousness after delivering oxygen tanks and supplies to the group. However, despite their ordeal, the boys have one thing to look forward to: If they make it out in time, FIFA has invited them to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.