All 12 missing boys and their soccer coach have been found alive after nine days in caves in Thailand.
Thai Navy seals reached the group, aged between 11 and 15, and the 25-year-old coach but have not yet brought them out of the cave. They were discovered by two British divers on a ledge in the cavern.
In video shot by rescuers as the group were found, flickering torchlight revealed boys clad in shorts and red and blue shirts sitting or standing on the ground in an underground cave beside an expanse of water.
“How many of you are there - 13? Brilliant,” a member of the multinational rescue team, speaking in English, tells the boys. You have been here 10 days. You are very strong.”
“Thank you so much,” one of the boys says.
FOOTAGE OF THE RESCUE WAS POSTED ON THE THAI NAVY SEAL FACEBOOK PAGE:
An international search effort was sparked after the group went missing inside the Tham Luang cave when they were trapped by flooding caused by heavy rain.
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 by the border with Myanmar.
Rescue teams battled through thick mud and high water to try to reach the group in the cave network that stretches six miles into a mountain.
“They are all safe but the mission is not completed,” the Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told a press conference at the cave entrance.
“Our mission is to search, rescue and return. So far we just found them. Next mission is to bring them out from the cave and send them home.”
The governor said they would keep draining the water from the cave while doctors and nurses would dive in to the cave to check the health of the boys and their coach.
“If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave,” he said.
“We will look after them until they can return to school.”
Rescuers had been focusing on an elevated mound inside the cave which cavers have named ‘Pattaya Beach’, which could have provided the boys with a refuge when rains flooded the cave.
Relatives of the boys, who have been at a shelter near the cave hoping for a breakthrough, were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after being given the news. Rescuers shook hands and congratulated each other as occasional cheers broke out.
It remains unclear whether any of the group are injured or in need of medical attention, but they have been given energy gels to sustain them while a plan is worked out to bring them to safety.