A rescue operation for the 12 boys and coach trapped in a cave tunnel in Northern Thailand has begun. Reporters were ushered from the cave as the divers and support personnel began the retrieval operation.
From the AP:
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they are gradually extracted. The operation began at 10 a.m. and he said it would take at least 11 hours for the first person to be rescued.
(T)he governor supervising the mission said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won’t last if it rains again.
The removal operation is considered to be extremely dangerous, particularly after the recent death of a former Thai Navy SEAL participating in the rescue efforts. (TNB) Oxygen bottles have been placed at points along the pathway out.
From the Guardian:
The rescue action is expected to take several days, but reports indicate that concerns about diminishing oxygen levels in the cavern where the boys are trapped was a contributing factor to the decision to act immediately.
UPDATE: Four of the boys have been rescued overnight, per Khaosod English.
The first walked out of the cave to cheers from the assembled journalists and rescue workers, and has been identified as Mongkol Boonpiam, 13. A second followed ten minutes later. Roughly two hours afterward, the second two boys were brought out, but the news there is not as positive. While both are alive, one is reported to be in poor condition and is being closely monitored.
After they emerge, the boys are being taken to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, about 60 km away, for detailed health checks and monitoring.
The Thai Navy SEALS are updating a Facebook page about the Wild Boars (the name of the soccer team) as the rescues are confirmed.
According to this report from Channel NewsAsia Six kids have been rescued Five are safe and one is in critical condition. Four have been verified, this is the first I’ve heard of Six. Whatever the number is, any is major progress.
Video provided by rescuers show the first four boys being stretchered out of Tham Luang cave complex (This is raw video without audio). Channel NewsAsia
More updates as they come in.