It is being seen as a miracle. Rescuers have found all 13 Thailand soccers players and their coach alive after being trapped in a cave for 10 days. The heroic rescue team is racing to pump water from the cave in Northern Thailand before a heavy rain comes and threatens to complicate getting them out.
Divers struggling through narrow passages and murky waters found the 12 boys and their coach late on Monday on an elevated rock about 2.5 miles from the mouth of the cave. The boys were weak, but had only minor injuries.
News of their survival sparked a world-wide celebration.
“Thank you all Thais, thank you all foreigners, everybody is a hero and everybody helped each other,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
A video shot by the rescuers in flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above water.
“How many of you are there – 13? Brilliant,” a member of the multinational team tells the boys in English. “You have been here 10 days. You are very strong”.
“Thank you,” one of the boys said.
Another asked when they will get out, to which the rescuer answered: “Not today. You have to dive.”
Aged between 11 and 16, the boys went missing with their 25-year-old coach after training on June 23, when they endeavored to explore the caves in the forest park.
The task now for the rescuers is to decide how best to get the group out safely. They warned it could take time. Rain continued to fall in Chiang Rai and was forecast to increase on Wednesday.
“If it rains too much, water levels will rise and make getting them out harder,” Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda told reporters.
Two British divers experienced in cave rescues, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, were first to reach the boys and were accompanied by a team of Thai navy SEALS divers.
Options on Tuesday included waiting until water levels subside, or teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave.
“Helping the kids will take time,” said navy chief, Admiral Naris Pratoomsuwan. He added that it took three hours to reach the place where the boys were found.
Relatives waiting at a nearby shelter were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after hearing the boys had been found.