Thai youth football team and coach found in cave after 9-day search to get 4 months' food and diving training

A total of 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach were found deep inside the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district on July 2 after a nine-day search, and will be supplied with four months' worth of food and get diving training, according to the military.

“Thai Navy Seals have found all 13 with signs of life,” the governor of Chiang Rai province, Mr Narongsak Osottanakorn, told reporters. Thai television channels broadcast live from in front of the flooded cave complex, reports The Straits Times.

Family members and rescue workers who were at the scene screamed in joy upon hearing the news.

The boys and their assistant football coach disappeared on June 23 during an outing to the cave complex, which spanned 10km beneath the mountains in northern Chiang Rai province, and the search swiftly became an international operation, with specialist cave divers and other support flying in to help.

Specialists from Australia, Britain, Japan and China, including more than 30 US military personnel, joined about 1,000 Thai rescuers.

The initial worry of them surviving in a cave that has little or no food and light, however, soon shifted to the tricky task of evacuating the group from the complex underground system.

Food and medical supplies - including high-calorie gels and paracetamol - were sent to them on Tuesday as rescuers prepared for the possibility that they may be there for some time.

"[We will] prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water," Navy Captain Anand Surawan said, according to a statement from Thailand's Armed Forces.

The miraculous rescue sparked jubilation across the country because overcoming rising flood waters in the cave was a huge challenge due to days of downpour and fast-moving floods.

"We called this mission impossible because it rained every day... but with our determination and equipment, we fought nature," said Mr Narongsak.

But there were no exact details on how they were going to be rescued, given that the cave system was still flooded.

Divers from the Thai Seal unit have been stationed inside and there were frantic efforts to pump out flood water to aid rescue teams in advancing to the large, sandy and dry chamber called Pattaya Beach, where the boys and the coach were believed to have sought refuge. 

On Tuesday morning, footage of the team was posted on the official Facebook page of the Thai Navy Seals.

In the video that was taken late during the wee hours of Monday, a diver can be heard telling the boys, “many, many people are coming... we are the first”.

(Story continues after post)

The post read: "Hooyah! Wild Boar team.

"The youths of the Wild Boar had been found 200m away from Pattaya Beach, at 9.38pm on July 2.

"Scuba Navy Divers, as well as divers from England, used equipments such as an LED rope."

Medical teams even staged drills on Saturday morning to prepare for the possible rescue, amid worries about how the boys might be pulled out of the cave if and when they are found.

Ambulances have also been standing by in front of the cave throughout the week.

After being brought out of the cave, the conditions of the boys and the coach were assessed, before being conveyed to a hospital within half an hour.

Read the full story on The Straits Times.

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