Since late June, the world has been focused on a weeks-long operation in Thailand to locate and rescue the members of a boys’ soccer team and their coach following a sudden monsoon rain storm. According to The New York Times, the group — which had apparently ignored warning signs posted outside a network of caves to participate in a “team-building exercise” — was reported missing after they didn’t come home from a Saturday practice. Since then, the Thai Royal Navy and others have begun organizing a massive rescue operation involving cave-diving and other dangerous, but necessary, means. It is currently underway.
CNN reports rescue operations began in earnest late Sunday, which was “several hours ahead of the initial schedule provided by authorities.” According to the Thai Navy SEAL official Facebook page, four of the 12 boys had been rescued roughly nine hours “after a team of 18 international cave diving experts entered the underground chamber.” Military and government officials confirmed with the NYT that the boys were currently being assessed and cared for at a nearby hospital. However, the next group of rescuers must wait “10 to 20” hours before going back in order to begin “replacing air tanks and supplies along their route.”
Officials are also concerned as the ongoing monsoon season has battered the area with additional rains. The NYT reports the weather “will not immediately make water levels rise within the cave,” though it is “greatly [increasing] the urgency of the operation.” Especially since the stakes have already turned deadly for the operation itself. On Friday, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan, a volunteer, died after placing spare oxygen tanks along the route divers would be using to retrieve the trapped soccer team.