Teams prepare 'rescue operation' to save boys trapped in Thailand cave

Rescuers in Thailand have stunningly removed some of the boys trapped in a flooded treacherous cave

"Now and in the next three or four days, the conditions are flawless [for evacuation] in terms of the water, the weather and the boys' health", Narongsak told reporters.

Rescuers arrive near a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, July 8, 2018.

The Thai navy SEALs gave the boys crash courses in using diving masks and breathing underwater.

Four boys have been rescued after being trapped underground for two weeks in northern Thailand in one of the most complicated rescues the world's best cave divers have seen.

But for many in Thailand, Mr Ekapol, who left monkhood three years ago, is an nearly divine force, sent to protect the boys as they go through this ordeal.

Thai officials said Saturday they are anxious that heavy monsoon rain could soon make the job even more hard and they may need to quickly rescue the boys and the soccer coach from a partially flooded cave by helping them make risky dives to safety. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and risky plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.

Osotthanakorn told reporters there would be a meeting Sunday evening to plan next steps, and that authorities want to ensure conditions are stable before beginning the next phase of the rescue.

Mr Ekapol Chanthawong, his assistant, was to take the younger boys to a soccer field nestled by the Doi Nang Non mountain range, a formation with numerous waterfalls and caves that straddles the Thai-Myanmar border.

Trapped for two weeks: A massive rescue operation was launched after the boys, ages 11-16, and their coach went missing on June 23.

The Tesla CEO has designed an escape pod as he lends a hand to the complex rescue effort.

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During a news conference Sunday, Thai officials thanked the media for their cooperation in clearing from the rescue area, saying that emergency responders needed space to work.

Karadzic said the British divers are the most skilled in the group - "when it comes to cave diving, the U.K.is the best", he said - and acted as beginning-to-end "buddy" escorts for those rescued Sunday.

After considering a "bouncy castle" air tube that the kids might be able to wriggle through to safety, Musk and his team settled on the idea of building a kid-sized submarine, equipped with external air tanks.

Mongkhol Boonpiam, 14, has been named by some Thai media as one of the rescued boys.

Narongsak said efforts to remove floodwater and divert water flows have been "very successful", but seasonal monsoon rains are forecast to hit the region this weekend and throughout next week.

"The fact that it took so many hours underscores how precarious this whole mission is", she said.

The boys were each being led by two divers as they wind 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) through pitch darkness, trudge through thick mud, clamber over slippery jagged rocks and dive through narrow passageways swirling with cold, strong currents.

The SEALs, which have stationed divers and medics with the boys for the last week, posted a message on their Facebook page on Sunday promising to bring the group back safely. American technology entrepreneur Elon Musk even deployed engineers from his private space exploration firm SpaceX and Boring Co.to help.

The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were transported by divers and made public Saturday.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone".

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