3 Jul 2018

Thai football team trapped in cave found alive after nine days

7:50 am on 3 July 2018

All 13 people who have been trapped in a cave network in Thailand for nine days have been found alive.

A happy family member shows the latest picture of the missing boys taken by rescue divers inside Tham Luang cave.

A happy family member shows the latest picture of the missing boys taken by rescue divers inside Tham Luang cave. Photo: AFP

They appear to have survived by sheltering above the water level when the caves were flooded by early monsoon rains.

The rescue team have posted a video from within the cave showing the footballers and their coach.

The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach after soccer practice on 23 June after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai.

Despite no contact from the trapped people, an international major rescue effort has been under way, involving specialist dive teams from around the world, and the use of pumps to bring the water level down.

It's been reported the boys and adult are all too weak to move, and will receive medical treatment in the cave before being brought back to the surface.

The Tham Luang cave system is a popular tourism and recreation attraction in the hills of northern Thailand.

Family members of one of the missing boys celebrate while camping out near Than Luang cave following news all members of children's football team and their coach were alive in the cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province late July 2, 2018.

Relatives of one of the missing boys celebrate outside the cave at Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park. Photo: AFP

Rescuers had been working on Monday to clear a constricted passageway for divers deep inside the flooded cave complex in a search operation that has been hampered by heavy rain.

Divers from Thailand's elite navy SEAL unit 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.

Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said the navy divers reached Pattaya Beach, but it was flooded, so they carried on for 400 metres where where they found the 13 "who were safe".

The next challenge will be getting the group out of the cave, which some have dubbed a "labyrinth".

Thai rescue personnel arrive at the Tham Luang cave to conduct operations to find the missing members of the children's football team in a cave chamber along with their coach at the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai.

Thai rescue personnel at the Tham Luang cave as searches began. Photo: AFP

Rescuers had discussed waiting until water levels subsided to get the boys out. Other options included teaching the group to use diving gear to navigate the flooded cave.

Medical teams were seen preparing first aid kits after news of the group's discovery broke outside the cave's entrance.

Relatives of the boys took shelter from heavy rain on Monday and were seen cheering, smiling and receiving calls after receiving 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.

- Reuters

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