Boys Have Been Rescued From Thailand Cave

CNNThe 12 boys and their football coach have been stuck in the cave since June 23

A risky rescue mission to free 12 schoolboys and their soccer coach trapped inside a Thai cave for two weeks has begun, authorities said.

The rescue operation involves guiding the boys through a partially flooded cave system that has already taken the life of one diver who attempted to reach the trapped soccer team. Upon landing at nearby Old Airport, the boys will be taken via ambulance to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, a hospital official told ABC News. "The war ends when we win all three battles - the battles to search, rescue and send them home". "They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet".

Trapped for two weeks: A massive rescue operation was launched after the boys, ages 11-16, and their coach went missing on June 23.

An Australian doctor, who is part of today's rescue mission, checked the health of the boys last night and gave the all clear for the rescue to proceed, Mr Narongsak said.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach, have been stuck for two weeks on a ledge and survived by drinking water dripping off the stalactites above them.

The official said the rescue effort would not proceed until the team was "100 percent ready".

In the days since they were found in the cave, the boys have written notes to their families expressing optimism and encouraging them not to worry.

But authorities face a new race against time as heavy rain, which had been predicted later this week, pummeled the cave complex in northern Thailand shortly after the first boys were freed.

More news: Ronaldo out of World Cup after loss to Uruguay

The boys were immediately taken to the hospital for evaluation after being trapped underground for almost two weeks.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that the U.S.is working closely with the Thai government to "get all of the children out of the cave and to safety".

Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the unsafe mission to bring out the 12 boys and their coach earlier on Sunday.

Some took time on Sunday to pay tribute to Saman Gunan, a Thai Navy SEAL who died while trying to ensure the boys had enough oxygen. Several ambulances were seen coming to and from the cavesite.

The football team have been in the cave since 23 June, when rising water levels trapped them inside. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days, CBS News reported.

Rescuing them all could take three to four days and depended on the weather, an army commander involved in the mission said.

In an indication of how risky the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday. Incoming monsoon rains could once again flood the cave and deplete oxygen levels. Each of the boys will be accompanied by two divers. "I had been anxious about my son, that he would be exhausted, he would be tired", he said. "I miss everyone. Grandpa, Uncle, Mom, Dad and siblings, I love you all". Saman Gunan, a former Navy SEAL, ran out of air and drowned on his swim back out of the cave.

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