First Boys Rescued Emerge

Thai rescue teams arrange a water pumping system at the entrance to the flooded cave complex

Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda said they are generally "strong and safe" and under close medical supervision.

Rescuers have started to enter the cave, with a team of global diving experts attempting to free the 12 schoolboys and their 25-year-old coach. The operation began at 10 a.m. and he said it would take at least 11 hours for the first person to be rescued.

"Today was very successful, more than expected", provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said Sunday.

The boys, who are aged between 11 and 16 years old, along with their 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong, went to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave after football practice, but did not return home that night. "I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", he said Saturday.

A Thai navy official told CNN: "The operation has begun and it is ongoing at the moment".

Experts have said that the second day of rescue will be worse than Sunday because the boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels in the chamber where they are trapped.

Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

The boys who have already been rescued have been rushed to hospital for 48 hour observation following their ordeal. Spare air canisters had also been placed along the route.

On Friday, the death of a former Thai navy SEAL underscored the risks. "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission". It's unlikely the nine in the cave are aware their teammates were rescued successfully, due to a lack of communication tools between them and the entrance, according to Ten News reporter Daniel Sutton.

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Falling oxygen levels, and with numerous boys not able to swim well, present further risks should they panic as they are guided slowly through the pitch-black waters.

"They have had to make a quick decision because they are really concerned about the water level rising".

Teams have used high-powered pumps to empty more than 100 million of gallons of water out of the cave.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning, "The U.S.is working very closely with the government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety". They were escorted out by a group of Thai and worldwide divers.

A team of global rescuers and experts including the USA military team are involved in the operation.

Relatives say the boys had been inside the cave during the dry season, when the labyrinthine complex is easier to navigate. A storm arrived while the group was deep inside.

Family members of the boys trapped in the cave are questioned by the media.

The rescue mission is proving to be hard for divers whose efforts are continually hampered by rising water that has filled sections of the cave, often forcing them to stop. The extraction team began the unsafe operation at 10am local time and the families of the missing boys have been informed.

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