• Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
  • Last Update : 08:12 pm

Minute by minute: All 13 rescued from flooded Thai cave

  • Published at 04:16 pm July 8th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:36 pm July 10th, 2018


The unprecedented mission to evacuate the "Wild Boar" football team from a flooded Thai cave finished on Tuesday after the final four boys and their coach were extracted by elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs. The final stage of the complex operation, which has gripped Thailand and dominated global headlines, put an end to the 18-day saga that started when the team entered the cave on June 23.

Confirmed: 12 rescued

05:53pm – The 12th boy has been rescued, the Thai navy Seals have confirmed. “Hooyah.”

How the boys are retrieved

AJ+, an Al Jazeera media outlet, has made this short animation explaining how divers are retrieving the 12 boys and their coach.

Boys asked for bread with chocolate

Back on Sunday, the first four boys rescued asked from their hospital beds for a popular Thai basil stir-fry, but were told their digestive systems couldn't cope yet and they would have to stick to porridge.

Today the public health minister told reporters that the new arrivals had asked for bread with chocolate, and their request was granted.

Confirmed: Eleventh boy freed from Thai caves

04:28pm – Thai TV said the eleventh to be rescued is the smallest, assumed to be 11-year-old Chanin Wiboonrungrueng. His identity has not been confirmed.

The Thai rescue is continuing at a fast pace as an eleventh boy was rescued Tuesday afternoon local time, an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations told CNN. That leaves rescuers with the task of bringing out only one more boy, and the Wild Boars' football coach, from the cave complex in northern Thailand.

A total of three boys have been pulled out of the cave so far on Tuesday, the third day of rescue operations.

Report: 11th rescued

04:19pm – An eleventh person has been seen being carried out of the cave, according to Reuters.

Seven people remain in the cave

The identities of those rescued have not been confirmed. If the adults are rescued last those remaining in the cave would be two more boys, their coach, three navy seals and a doctor. 

Narongsak Osatanakor, the head of the operation, said: “If everything goes right, we will see four kids and a doctor and three Seals that have stayed with the kids will all come out. Four plus one coach, so it’s five.”

Thai Navy confirms ninth rescue

03:54pm – The Thai Navy Seals, who are leading the rescue effort, have confirmed that a ninth boy was rescued and is out of the cave.

How medias are confirming the rescues

Report: Tenth person rescued

03:37pm – Reuters reports that a tenth person has been rescued citing a witness.

Ninth boy rescued from cave complex

03:17pm – One more boy was brought out of the cave complex on Tuesday, the third day of rescue operations.

The boy is being treated at the medical facility on site, according to a Thai navy official with direct knowledge of the operational details.

Nine of the 12 boys have now been rescued. Three boys and their coach remain in the cave.

Boys to watch World Cup in isolation

03:15pm – The Thai boys and their coach were invited to the World Cup final by FIFA last Friday. But they will “probably still be in isolation," Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Health, Dr Jessada Chokedamrongsook said in a press conference Sunday. He said they would likely be able to watch on television.

Volunteers cook up Thai boys' favourite food

03:07pm – Hundreds of volunteers have been working around the clock — many from all across Thailand — cooking and serving up free food for the rescue workers and assorted media stationed at the command center near the Tham Luang cave complex. It’s an extensive operation with several large outdoor kitchens and supply stations offering sanitary goods, like wet-wipes and soaps.

Last night volunteers cooked up khao pad krapow, a Thai traditional fried rice dish that the boys asked for in hospital.

2:50pm- AP says an ambulance has been seen leaving the site of the cave. But there has been no confirmation that a ninth boy has been rescued.

"Every step of the extraction is risky," diver says

2:06pm- Narongsuk Keasub, one of the divers helping transport air tanks for the SEAL team, spoke with CNN about the inherent dangers of the rescue mission. He called it "the hardest mission" he has ever done.

"We could only see our hands (and a) short distance, secondly the stones are razor sharp which is dangerous for our diving, thirdly the passage is very narrow," Keasub said.

12:52pm- “All eight are in good health, no fever... everyone is in a good mental state,” Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told reporters at Chiang Rai hospital where the boys were recuperating.

12:20pm- “Although his technology is good and sophisticated it’s not practical for this mission,” Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the operation, said.

11:30am- The four remaining boys and their coach, who are trapped inside the cave, should all be evacuated Tuesday, mission commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn told reporters.

10:30am- Doctors said the boys will miss the World Cup as they will spend at least seven days in hospital. They won’t be able to take up the offer from the president of Fifa to attend the match in Russia next week.

10:00am- Doctors are setting up a phone line so that the boys in hospital can speak with their parents. 

According to the Guardian, it appears that the youngest child, Chanin Wiboonrunreung, and the coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, are still inside the cave.

09:30am- The first four boys to be rescued have now seen their parents, and the other four will likely see their parents today, reports the Guardian.

The boys are in hospital and only saw their parents through glass.

The boys are generally healthy and safe, doctors said, but two are receiving treatment for “minor” lung infections.

It will be at least seven days before they are discharged from hospital.

9:24am- The Chiang Rai city hospital is likely to provide an update shortly on the health of the eight boys already freed, reports the Guardian.

Operation resumes on day 3 for final 5

8:58am (July 10)- Divers and rescue workers in Thailand have begun what could be the final push to free four boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a cave in the country's remote north, according to a Thai Navy official.

Eight of the boys were taken out of the cave during the first two days of rescue operations, but five others remain trapped on a ledge 4 kilometers inside the cave system, reports the CNN.

Operation drawing to a close for the day

The operation to rescue the boys from the cave has been completed for the day.

 It has been confirmed that four boys were rescued on the second day of the operation on Monday, adding to the four who were safely removed on Monday.

The rescue of the four boys would be consistent with Sunday's move to take out four at a time.

'Heavy showers' forecast

According to the BBC weather team, the coming week will bring tropical showers and sporadic thunderstorms to the region around the cave.

Fairly heavy showers are expected until Thursday, likely followed by heavier rains at the end of the week.

Any rainfall could add further risks to an already dangerous and complex rescue operation.

World Cup invitation

The offer reportedly still stands for the boys to attend the World Cup final in Russia after Fifa president Gianni Infantino invited them on Friday.

In a letter to the Thai Football Association, Infantino offered "deepest sympathies and support" for the young team, adding that if they were rescued in time and were healthy enough to travel, it would "undoubtedly be a wonderful moment of communion and celebration" for them to enjoy.

Ex-Wild Boars’ want to play with rescued boys 

The head coach of the Wild Boars soccer team had temporarily suspended all matches and practices after it emerged that the boys on the under-16s team were trapped in the cave. They were too worried about their teammates to play soccer.

But with news of the rescues, he decided to get the older team together for a practice in a show of unity with the rescuers, and to keep spirits up.

The mood there was optimistic, and the players and coaching staff were confident that the junior team would be home soon. Some of the over-17s told CNN they looked forward to welcoming their junior teammates home and playing football with them soon.

Thai PM arrives at site

 08:00pm – Following the great news about the eighth freed member of the team, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has arrived at the site.

He had originally remained in nearby Chiang Rai so not to hamper the rescue efforts.

Thai navy SEALs confirm eight boys rescued

07:22pm – The Thai navy SEALs, the military unit running the rescue operation, have confirmed that eight boys have now been rescued. Its Facebook page does not reveal the identity of the rescued boys.

Rescued boys were wearing full face masks

07:05pm – The four boys rescued from the cave on Monday were wearing full face diving masks while they were carried out of the cave to the make shift hospital nearby, according to an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave. 

He added that the boys were also wearing dive suits while being carried on stretchers and that their masks would be removed by medical staff at the make shift hospital.

Focus shifts to health of the boys 

As members of the boys' soccer team trapped in a cave continue being rescued on Monday, the focus is shifting to the boys' long-term health and getting them proper medical aid. Health experts will be checking oxygen, malnutrition, dehydration, post-traumatic stress, and other psychological effects.

"One of the major concerns is oxygen right now. They've been in an area where oxygen levels are low," Dr Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee School of Medicine told CNN.

They will also be checked for malnutrition, dehydration and an array of other health effects.

Dr Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist who is also a scuba diver, called it "an amazing feat" that some of the boys had been rescued. She said officials would need to check for post-traumatic stress and other psychological effects on the boys.

She said it would be extremely important to relay the good news of the first boys' rescue to the others who remain trapped inside. "That would be such a boost for their confidence," Lieberman said.

06:45pm – Sixth and seventh boys are being airlifted to hospital in Chiang Rai.

Thai TV said it takes 20 minutes for a helicopter to reach the helipad which is 700 meter from the hospital.

Two more ambulances leave cave site

06:25pm – The BBC's Jonathan Head, who is at the cave site, has seen signs of more rescues.

Reports: Seventh and eighth boy rescued

06:05pm – Reuters and CNN report a seventh and eighth boy being rescued, citing witnesses.

Special classes and support for boys

Mae Sai Prasitsart School, where six of the trapped boys study, will prepare special classes for when they return, school director Kanet Pongsuwan said at a news conference on Monday.

He said the boys would be offered psychological support but would be treated “like any other students at school” to help them settle back in, Channel News Asia reported.

“We’ll never make them feel guilty over what has happened. We’ll not blame them for it,” he said.

05:39pm – Reuters report sixth and seventh boys has left the cave.

Confirmed: Sixth boy rescued

05:18pm – A sixth boy has been rescued, a source inside the rescue team has confirmed to the Guardian.

Fifth rescued boy arrives at hospital

05:16pm – The fifth boy to be rescued from the cave complex in northern Thailand has arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai. He will join his four teammates already being treated at the newly converted isolation ward at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital.

Report: Sixth boy rescued

05:09pm – Reports are now emerging of a sixth boy coming out.

The Thai prime minister was supposed to visit the site but is now hanging around Chiang Rai so as not to disrupt the operation.

05:00pm – Thai public television has broadcast live video of a medivac helicopter landing close to a hospital in the city of Chiang Rai, near the site of the cave, AP reports.

The Associated Press said, “Medics appeared to remove one person on a stretcher but hid the person’s identity behind multiple white umbrellas. An ambulance was seen leaving the scene immediately afterward early 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.”

“Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the 12-member team’s coach, after four boys were rescued on Sunday, the first day of the rescue operation.”

04:55pm – Pad Krapow, Thai basil leaves with meat and rice, was the meal the boys rescued on Sunday, according to Narongsak Osottanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the mission. 

“They made a special request that they wished to have Pad Krapow,” Narongsak told a press briefing.

Here are details of all of those who were trapped

04:29pm – Thai TV stations have been broadcasting footage of an ambulance, believed to be carrying the fifth rescued boy, driving from the cave to a waiting helicopter.

The helicopter was seen heading south towards Chiang Rai where the other rescued boys are treated in hospital.

Confirmed: Fifth boy rescued

A source inside the rescue operation has confirmed to the Guardian a fifth boy emerged from the cave not long ago.

An ambulance rush past and about five minutes later a helicopter flew over the media centre site to cheers from many of the Thai volunteers.

04:15pm – An ambulance has left the site amid multiple reports of fifth boy being rescued.

First person taken from cave Monday

03:50pm – Rescuers brought at least one boy out of the cave system on Monday, according to a witness outside the cave in northern Thailand.

He joins four other boys who were rescued on Sunday from deep inside the cave by a team of international and Thai dive experts.

The boys, all part of a youth football team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing over two weeks ago. Last Monday they were discovered huddled on a narrow shelf of rock deep within the flooded cave system.

Rescue leader: We hope for good news soon

3:01pm- Mission commander Narongsak Osotthanakorn confirmed that Monday's attempt to rescue more boys from the cave began at 11am local time.

It involves the same divers -- with a "few swapped out" -- who carried out Sunday's treacherous operation which took nine hours and led to the rescue of four boys. 

He said the team "hopes to hear good news soon."

The second attempt started up after rescue workers got some rest and refilled supplies, reports the Guardian.

2:40pm- Speaking at a press briefing, officials suggested that the stronger and healthier boys would be rescued first.

1:02pm- The rescue mission has resumed, according to a Thai navy official with knowledge of the operation.

The navy officer told CNN: “The operation has begun and it is ongoing at the moment.”

He added the same set of divers as yesterday have gone into the cave.

12:30pm- A helicopter has landed close to the rescue site, reports the Guardian.

"No hugging, no touching the rescued children" 

12:12pm- The four boys, who were rescued last night, are in good overall health and should be able to see their families later today.

Thailand’s health department inspector Dr Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong said the boys have undergone a series of tests at Prachanukroh hospital in Chiang Rai.

He told the Thai daily newspaper Kom Chad Lek, that the boys should be able to see close relatives later today after tests were completed, but warned there must be no physical contact until the results of blood tests came back.

Rescue operation hasn't resumed yet

11:41am- The operation to extricate the remaining trapped boys and their coach has not resumed, Deputy Commander to 3rd Army Region Maj Gen Chalongchai Chaiyakum said.

The general told CNN on the phone: “The operation has not resumed yet. We are still in meetings.”

11:30am- Elon Musk has shared video of his team testing out his small “kid-sized submarine,” which he suggested as a potential solution for rescuing the trapped children.

Musk said the “mini-sub,” which is towed by adult divers, weighed about 40kg, meaning it was “easy to carry on long dry sections of the cave” and then divers could add “diver weight belts wrapped around [the] outside” as ballast.

He also wrote: “With some mods, this could also work as an escape pod in space.”

Elon Musk confirmed several days ago that he was in talks with Thai government about whether he might be able to assist with rescue efforts, reports the Guardian.

11:07am- Mae Sai Prasitsart School’s teacher Thongyaud Kejorn says the boys will not have to take an exam scheduled for next week. 

“They will not have to follow the normal schedules,” Kejorn said at a press conference on Monday morning.

He said each of the returning students would receive individual counseling with a psychiatrist.

10:39am- Six of the boys who got trapped in the cave are from Mae Sai Prasitsart School. The students and teachers of the school have described to the press the preparations they have made for when the boys return. 

They said they have been receiving guidance from mental health professionals.

10:13am- Same divers, who rescued the first four boys, will conduct the next operation.

Such decision was taken as the divers know the cave conditions and what to do, Thailand’s Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said.

The officials were meeting on Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining boys from the cave.

Anupong said the divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach are trapped.

10:09am- In a TV interview Monday morning, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she believed the boys would be brought out in groups of four, meaning at least two more operations.

She said Australia had sent a team of 19 to support the rescue operation.

Public encouraged to write messages of support for boys

10:00am- A visitors' book has been placed for public to write messages of support to the boys.

The staff of Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital placed the book. The four boys who were recovered Monday night are currently undergoing treatment at the hospital.

More oxygen needed to finish rescue operation

9:46am- While giving details of the rescue mission, Chiang Rai's Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn all oxygen supplies were used up during the first opetaion.

He said they will have to prepare more oxygen supplies, reports CNN.

9:35am-There are reports circulating that one of the four people rescued last night was 25-year-old Ekapol Chanthawong, the football coach of the students.

It is being speculated that he might have been removed from the cave because he was unwell.

According to the Guardian, the coach fell ill as he gave the boys all the food to eat while they waited for rescuers to find them.

Rescue operation to resume with eight boys and coach still trapped

9:00am (July 9) - The divers have not gone into the cave for the rescue mission to bring out the remaining boys, but are planning on doing so soon, reports the Guardian.

Four confirmed out, rescue on hold

07:52pm – The head of the rescue operation has said four of the boys are now safely in hospital.

There are conflicting reports about the number of boys released from the cave, but the head of the rescue operation and Thai Navy SEALs say at least four are out of the cave.

Credible local news sources and the Reuters news agency had reported six of the 12 boys have been rescued.

“Our operation was more successful than we expected,” Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the rescue, said at a press briefing on Sunday.

The rescue has been concluded for the night and will resume in 10-20 hours because “we’ve used all the oxygen,” according to the operation chief.

The operation is set to resume at 8am local time with officials and volunteers buoyed by the fact that their method of rescuing the boys by diving has been successful insofar.

Psychiatry expert: Boys will require immediate support 

Doctor Andrea Danese, a Psychiatry lecturer at King’s College in London, told Al Jazeera that he expects most of the children to present emotional symptoms.

"Several of them may be agitated, they may be irritable. They may be also acting out in terms of trying to deal with their emotions," he said. 

According to Danese, 10%-20% of the children may develop long-term mental health issues, such as "depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder … and in the older ones particularly perhaps substance abuse." 

He also said that physical health issues may also occur due to malnutrition and high levels of stress.

Graphics explain the rescue operation currently underway

07:52pm – A round of applause erupted after Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said he had met the children.

He said their health is “perfect” and called today the “best situation.”

50 foreign divers and 40 Thai divers are currently involved in the rescue operation.

07:50pm – A helicopter flies over the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, around 50 miles from the rescue site, following two ambulances which arrived earlier.

Reports: One boy being 'closely monitored'

07:44pm – One Thai news site has reported one of the boys rescued from the cave was said to need "close medical attention."

But the report has not been confirmed.

Ambulances arrive at Chiang Rai hospital

07:34pm – The BBC's Nick Beake has tweeted a photo of the hospital at Chiang Rai, not far from the cave complex. Two ambulances have arrived at the building.

07:14pm – President Donald Trump tweets US is helping Thai government rescue boys from cave.

Thai navy SEALs: Four boys exit cave

07:04pm - The Thai Navy SEALs have said four boys have been rescued, as Reuters reports that six boys have now left the cave complex.

In a Facebook post, the Thai navy SEALs have said four members of the youth football team had exited the cave as of 12:47GMT.

Six boys have now exited the cave 

06:54pm - A senior member of the rescue medical team has reportedly told Reuters that six boys have now exited the Tham Luang cave complex.

06:33pm - Reuters and local media report that the first boys rescued from the cave have been transferred by helicopter to the hospital in Chiang Rai.

AFP: Four boys expected to ‘walk out’ soon 

06:37pm – Lieutenant-General Kongcheep Tantrawanit has said another four of the boys are expected to walk out “shortly.” They are currently at the divers’ “base camp,” inside the cave system, he said, according to Agence France Press.

“Four boys have reached chamber three and will walk out of the cave shortly,” he said.

06:33pm - Another ambulance is going up, according to the BBC’s Helier Cheung. It has been reported that doctors assessed the boys inside the cave on Saturday and drew up an priority evacuation list with the weakest to be brought out first, and the strongest to be rescued last.

06:22pm - A reporter at the scene has apparently been told by rescue teams at the entrance of the cave that the lowered water levels have shortened the journey out of the cave.

Many chambers are reportedly walk-able now, which would go some way to corroborating the Reuters report.

Further rain, however, is forecast later today.

06:21pm - A military helicopter believed to be carrying rescued schoolboys takes off near Tham Luang cave complex.

06:09pm - The BBC has posted a video of an ambulance leaving the cave site.

Reuters: First two boys have been rescued 

The first two members of the Thai football team have been rescued, a local rescue official told Reuters.

“Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave,” said Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai’s health department and part of the rescue team.

“We are giving them a physical examination. They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet,” Tossathep told Reuters.

05:20pm - Various contradictory reports are circulating regarding the emergence of two of the boys.

Reuters says, citing a local official, that the first two members of the Thai football team have been recovered from the cave.

ITV says that a local police chief has just told him that two of the boys are out of the cave complex. They are apparently safe and reasonably well.

The Bangkok Post, meanwhile, says the first 2 boys are on their way to the entrance of the cave suggesting that they have completed the swim and are now walking through the chambers.

Nation captivated by rescue

Thais have been gripped by the two-week drama unfolding at the Tham Luang cave system, and took to social media on Sunday as rescue efforts unfolded.

Many have been sharing cartoons praying for a successful conclusion to the Wild Boar team's odyssey, hoping that it will end in their safe rescue.

05:20pm - Thirteen medical teams are standing ready outside the cave - each with its own helicopter and ambulance - one for each of 12 boys and their coach.

After an initial assessment at the site, there are plans for the boys to be airlifted around 50 miles to the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital.

A source at the hospital told Reuters that five emergency response doctors were awaiting the party and a further 30 doctors were on stand-by, adding that everyone was feeling tense.

“The teams here are happy the boys are being rescued but also anxious about the severity of the boys’ conditions. We’re under a lot of pressure,” she said, under condition of anonymity because she was not allowed to speak to the media.

The area outside the hospital is cordoned off and police are patrolling the area. On the street leading to the hospital, vendors are being ordered to “keep off the road” and to “not obstruct the transfer mission.”

Locals waiting near the hospital

The first boys aren't expected to leave the cave for another three hours at the earliest, but some locals are already waiting near the Chiang Rai hospital where the team will be treated.

05:05pm - There has reportedly been a flurry of activity where the media are assembled with people being ordered to leave the sides of the roads amid rumours a high-ranking politician may soon be arriving.

Caver: Rescuers need to be flexible

Cave explorer Emily Davis, who has experience of being trapped underground herself, says the divers taking part in the rescue are "top-notch, international cave divers. They really know their stuff so I have confidence they’ll be able to do this."

She says that key to a successful rescue is that the divers remain alert and adaptable.

“Cave rescue has to be malleable. They probably have a plan in place but there has to be some flexibility depending on any situation. The fact that they’ve drained the water down to the level they have, makes a major difference. It will make (the rescue) considerably easier. But there has to be availability of change, and because these guys are so experienced they’ll be able to change on the fly.”

Provincial governor: 'It is unknown how long it will take'

04:55pm - In a press release, the head of the joint command centre, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, issued an update on the progress of the cave rescue operation.

“The operation began at 10am (local time) when 13 international divers entered the cave. 10 of them headed for chamber 9 (where the boys are) and chamber 6 (near the junction) as planned. Another 3 cave divers performed their duty to support diving efforts beginning at 14.00.”

“There are a number of additional rescue personnel including divers, from Thailand, USA, Australia, China and Europe stationed from chamber 3 to the entrance. This includes a rope system to assist over difficult terrain in chambers 2 and 3.”

Due to the difficulty of the operation, Osottanakorn says it is unknown how long it might take until the first child has made it out – it had been suggested earlier today that the first of the boys could be out by 2pm BST.

04:40pm - The boys are expected to be swimming throughout the passageways in tandem with the cave divers. A graphic published by the Thai News Agency illustrates the task ahead in what it calls the “cave maze-bottle neck.”

Renewed monsoon downpours above them have come and gone throughout the past hour, according to reporters at the scene. 

04:35pm - Rain has cleared - for now. The weather in the area has improved.

Tense wait for families

For the families of the trapped boys, this is the day they've been waiting for - but it's also one that fills them with dread. 

There's been no shortage of warnings in recent days about how risky the rescue attempt will be - not least the death of former Thai Navy Sgt Saman Kunan, an ex-SEAL, who died early Friday morning due to a lack of air while attempting to return to a command centre deep underground.

On Sunday, CNN visited the home of Peerapat Sompeangjai, whose family has been glued to the television, waiting for news.

Peerapat turned 16 years old on the day the boys disappeared. During the search, his family said that they hadn't touched his birthday cake, in the hope that he would soon return home to share it.

Peerapat's 17-year-old sister, Phanphatsa told CNN on Sunday that they'd eaten the cake, but she promised to make him another one - and all his favourite food.

Diver: Weather changing is really scary

Rafael Aroush, an Israeli diver who lives in Thailand and has travelled to the rescue site to help, tells CNN that the weather, which seems to be closing in, is a "great factor" and "actually really scary."

He says because the cave is limestone and there are many streams overflowing into the cave, ongoing inclement weather could "destroy the whole operation."

Speed is "very, very important," now, he says. "(There) might be crucial changes in the rescue operation (plan) and somebody will make a decision maybe to bring more of them out today."

04:22pm - A plastic model mapping the mountains above where the boys and their coach are trapped has been spotted in a local government office.

International effort

The operation to rescue the trapped boys and their coach is truly a global effort, with experts from the United Kingdom, United States, China, Australia, Japan, Laos and Myanmar. Companies from other countries have offered support by donating equipment. 

The rescue mission also attracted the attention of SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk, who offered to send engineers to join the already huge operation being carried out at the Tham Luang cave complex.

A statement said Musk may "provide services for location tracking, water pumping or battery power."

04:00pm - The first group of boys should be on their way back now. Helicopters await to ferry them to the region’s largest hospital almost 60 miles away.

Boys to be split into four groups

03:20pm (july 8)- The trapped boys will be divided into four groups, the Bangkok Post is quoting a source as saying. It says the first group will have four people, with the second, third and fourth containing three people. The coach will be in the final group.