The young soccer team and its assistant coach have been located by divers after a marathon search effort.
Families of the trapped boys were overjoyed when they were located after nine days missing in the cave system. The moment of discovery was the culmination of a massive international rescue effort that has involved more than 1,000 people since the team was trapped in the caves on 23 June.
The plight of the missing boys has gripped a nation and made international headlines.
They were found by two British divers on a ledge in a cavern in the Tham Luang caves of Chiang Rai.
Getting them out of the caves will not be easy, however, with rising waters and mudslides making for a difficult retrieval mission.
Thai cave rescue: 'A miracle happened just as families were giving up hope' https://t.co/Xf4eHawL8A
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 2, 2018
In a video, British diver John Volanthen asks the huddled group: “How many of you?”
“Thirteen?” he confirms. “Brilliant.”
Volanthen had been working with other British caving experts Richard Stanton and Robert Harper. They had arrived in Thailand three days after the football team was trapped.
The moment missing Thai boys and their football coach are located over a week after going missing in a cave system
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The British Cave Rescue Council (BCRC) said the trio were “bringing with them valuable knowledge of the layout of overseas cave systems”.
Volanthen and Stanton had previously been involved with a cave diving rescue mission in France.
Now for the rescue mission
“They are all safe but the mission is not completed,” Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told assembled media at the command centre 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.”
Osotttnakorn said they would send doctors and nurses to the cave where they found the boys to check on their medical condition.
“If the doctors say their physical condition is strong enough to be moved, they will take them out from the cave,” he said.
There are a number of possible options for getting the boys out of the caves though none of them is straightforward.
#Thailand: Hoping today will bring news of 12 teen footballers & coach who entered cave in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand on June 23 https://t.co/CfJk9vDocb #ThamLuang #NorthernThailand #ChiangRai #คนแปลกหน้าที่อยากเจอที่สุด #ทีมหมู่ป่า #13ชีวิตต้องรอด #ถ้ำหลวง #13ชีวิตติดถ้ำ pic.twitter.com/KNYBhyeIMR
— JB (@3ty3) June 30, 2018
One possibility is for the boys to use diving equipment to exit the caves though they would need to be trained to do this. Further, the waterlogged caves have zero visibility and are considered difficult diving terrain for even experienced divers.
Edd Sorenson, regional co-ordinator for the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery Organisation, told the BBC diving in the caves is “extremely dangerous and hazardous” and would be an “absolute last resort” for the rescue.
Another potential rescue route is through drilling into the cave although authorities would need to survey the cave system to find the correct place to drill in what has been described as a “needle in a haystack problem”.
The safest option may be to continue taking supplies in to the boys until the water eventually recedes.