Elite divers have rescued the first six of 12 young soccer players and their coach who have been trapped in a flooded cave complex for more than two weeks. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old. Some of the parents told Reuters they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital. Multiple calls to senior government officials and military personnel leading the rescue operation rang unanswered Monday evening.
Less than an hour earlier, an ambulance with flashing lights had left the cave complex, hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue the soccer team.
Narongsak said Sunday two divers would escort each of the boys out of the cave.
"The boys' strength, the plan - today we are ready like before". "We have been practising for the past three to four days, rain or shine".
Now, the rescue operation is now racing against the clock as heavy rains pound the area and the water is dangerously rising in the caves.
It is expected that the operation will continue in the next 12 hours.
Two of them have been taken by ambulance to hospital while another two were airlifted, but none of them were stretchered out.
The quick extraction came as a surprise after one of the operation commanders said on Sunday morning the rescue efforts could take several days to complete. Apart from the Thai authorities, 19 Australian divers are a part of the risky rescue mission.
Narongsak Osatanakorn, the official in charge of the rescue effort, said Sunday that it was "D-Day", adding that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were partaking in the rescue.
Worldwide rescue teams from the U.S., China, Australia and Europe are stationed along tunnel walls from the entrance of the cave to chamber 3, a safe command center inside the cave, to support the extraction.
Authorities have said extracting the entire team from the cave could take up to four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that it could be done faster.
Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave.
The local government said in a statement later on Sunday that 10 worldwide divers had progressed into the cave and some had reached the point where the team is.
"We are giving them a physical examination".
The cave system, in a limestone mountain range bordering Myanmar in northern Thailand, has proven to be a formidable challenge for the worldwide rescue coalition, drawing some of the world's best divers who have volunteered to help in the operation alongside Thai Navy Seals.
Musk tweeted Sunday that a "kid-size submarine" meant to help the boys navigate narrow, flooded passageways on their way to safety is on the 17-hour trip to Thailand from Los Angeles.