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Rescue of trapped children begins

Rescue of trapped children begins

Rescue of trapped children begins

In a letter of his own, coach Ekapol Chanthawong apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal.

It has been reported that doctors assessed the boys inside the cave on Saturday, where they drew up an priority evacuation list. The rescue team is already inside the cave carrying out the operation.

His death highlights the very grave danger caused by conditions in the cave, where the situation can quickly worsen due to flooding.

Many have praised him following reports that he gave his share of food to the kids before they were located, and helped them get through nine days in the darkness.

"We will not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste", he said.

The boys - cold, malnourished and exhausted - will have to swim large sections of the underground maze and squeeze through tiny gaps, some no bigger than 30cm.

Sources in the diving team and the Thai navy confirmed the first two boys were freed late on Sunday afternoon and were airlifted to Chiang Rai city, about 50 miles away.

"I confirm that we are at war with water and time from the first day up to today", Chiang Rai Acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said Saturday.

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The boys, ranging in age from 11 to 16 years old, and their 25-year-old coach had been exploring in the cave after a practice game June 23.

The soccer team disappeared on June 23 and were later found stranded in a small chamber of the flooded Tham Luang cave complex, capturing the world's attention and fascination.

The rescued four boys are at a hospital near the cave. The boys' ordeal of the has drawn huge media attention in Thailand and overseas, and getting the boys out safely could be a boost for Thailand's junta ahead of a general election next year.

"Today we managed to rescue and send back four children to Chiang Rai Prachanukrua Hospital safely", the head of the rescue operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said at a news conference.

Officials did not clarify this morning whether the complex effort to dive the team out of the kilometres-long Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand had started.

United States technology tycoon Elon Musk said on Twitter that his team is working on a "tiny, kid-size submarine" to carry the boys out of the caves.

The group and their families had all given their agreement that they should be moved as soon as possible, he said.

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