Found alive on 10th day, Thai boys still await evacuation from flooded cave

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Twelve boys and their soccer coach found alive after 10 days trapped deep inside a flooded cave will have to bear their ordeal for longer.

Meanwhile, rescuers work out how to bring them safely, the governor of Chiang Rai province said on Tuesday.

Divers struggled through narrow passages and murky waters to discover the boys late on Monday night on an elevated rock about four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the mouth of the cave.

A video shot by rescuers in flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the rock above an expanse of water.

“How many of you are there – 13? Brilliant,” a member of the multinational rescue team, speaking in English asked the boys.

“You have been here 10 days. You are very strong.”

“Thank you,” one of the boys said.

One of the boys asked when they will get out of the cave, to which the rescuer answers: “Not today. You have to dive.”

Two British divers, John Volanthen and Rick Stanton, were first to reach the boys, having had strong experience in cave rescues, according to Bill Whitehouse, the Vice Chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC).

They found the group along with a team of Thai navy SEAL divers.

The boys’ survival was greeted with jubilation nationwide by Thais who have followed every twist of the harrowing story.

Aged between 11 and 16, the boys went missing with the 25-year-old after soccer practice on June 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near Thailand’s northern border in Myanmar.

Rescuers now have to decide how best to get the group out in their weakened condition.

“If you ask me now while we are still assessing all sides then I don’t think they will be home soon,” Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters.

The group’s health was assessed overnight by medical teams which will continue to check the health of the group on Monday, said Narongsak, explaining that the boys had sustained light injuries.

“We categorised their health condition as red, yellow or green, red being the most severe injuries, yellow being mild and green being light. Yesterday, unofficially, we assessed that most are in the green category,” said Narongsak.

Narongsak said rescue workers would now focus on the “rescue” phase and then a handover to medical teams waiting outside the cave.