Boys found alive after nine days in cave in Thailand

An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 soccer team

An ethnic Akha woman prays for the return of the missing members of an under-16 football team Credit Reuters

"The children will be supplied with food that could last at least four months", BBC quoted Thai military as saying. They had to go about two and a half miles from the cave system's entrance - through passages obstructed by thick mud and high water - just to find the group. In order to get them out ahead of the bad weather forecast for later in the week, they might need to use diving gear while being guided by professional divers, he said. "Brilliant", a member of the multinational rescue team, speaking in English, tells the boys.

Detective Superintendent Thomas Hester said the AFP Specialist Response Group team, which arrived in Chiang Rai on Saturday night Thailand time, faced "incredibly challenging" conditions.

All 13 people appeared to be in good condition, with no illnesses or injuries, said Mr Narongsak Osotthanakor, governor of Chiang Rai province. An official Australian group has followed a US military team, British cave experts, Chinese lifesaving responders and several other volunteer groups from various countries.

Cave rescue experts have said it could be safer to simply supply them where they are for now, rather than attempting to have the boys dive out.

Boys from an under-16 soccer team and their coach wait to be rescued after they were found trapped inside a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 3, 2018, in this still image taken from Thai Navy Seal handout video.

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Rescuers had been trying to locate the 12 boys, ages 11-16, and their soccer coach since they went into the caves after soccer practice on June 23 but were caught inside due to rising flood waters. He said they would be brought out via the same complicated route through which their rescuers entered. When water levels dropped Sunday, the divers went forward with a more methodical approach, deploying a rope line and extra oxygen supplies along the way.

Divers located the group in a chamber on higher ground deep inside the partially flooded cave.

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The heavy seasonal rains hampered the search operation, with divers groping their way along the cave walls, barely able to see in the muddy water, but the pumps had helped to bring down water levels in recent days.

Pumping out water hasn't solved the problem, so increasing efforts have been made to find shafts on the mountainside that might serve as a back door to the blocked-off areas where the missing may be sheltering. Several fissures have been found and teams have explored some, though so far none have led to the trapped boys.

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Experts in cave rescues from around the world continued to gather at the site.

Australian police and military personnel were deployed Saturday to join other multinational teams, including US military personnel and experts from a British cave exploration club.

Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked the global experts and rescuers who helped locate the missing for their "tremendous efforts".

"NAVY SEAL will come tomorrow, with food and doctors and everything", the rescuer said.

In response the British diver says: "Many, many people are coming ... we are the first", in reference to the vast and complex rescue operation that has taken over the mountainside.

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