The process is extremely risky, but officials say waters right now are at their optimal level inside the cave after a few days of better weather - and they're anxious about the potential for more rains to fill the flooded caves even further.
Rescue officials prepare to receive the boys and their coach as evacuation begins at Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, on Sunday.
- Thai authorities said early Sunday that they would begin an hours-long process of extracting a group of boys and their soccer coach more than two weeks after the group became trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand.
Chiang Rai province, acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn is heading the rescue operation, and told reporters that the divers will accompany each boy as they're extracted from the cave.
He said it would take eight hours to produce and 17 hours to transport to Thailand, though it was not clear if the Thai rescue team would use it.
An Australian doctor, a diving expert, gave the final approval on the health of the boys - clearing the way for the rescue. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.
The extraction of the boys occurred more than two hours earlier than the most optimistic deadline set by rescue authorities earlier on Sunday morning.
"From the situation assessment, we need to use the area to help victims".
The 12 members of the Mu Pa Academy football club, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing in the Thailand's fourth-longest cave on June 23 after flash flooding blocked their exit route. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days, CBS News reported.
Rescuers have been racing against the weather ever since they discovered the stranded football squad on Monday after they had already spent nine days underground. The initial euphoria of finding the boys alive tuned into deep anxiety as rescuers raced to find a way to get them out. A major concern of the rescuers is that oxygen levels in their safe space could fall dangerously low.
It is also worth mentioning here that most of the boys are unable to swim with no diving experience.
The letters from the boys penned by the Thai Navy SEAL who is staying with the boys in the cave.
The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.
"I confirm that the kids know about the mission and they are willing and ready to come out". "You don't need to be anxious about me".
A huge volunteer and media operation has built up around the mouth of the cave over the past week.
Emergency vehicles were seen arriving at a hospital in Chiang Rai this morning, though there was no official announcement of who they were carrying.