Four boys among a group of 13 trapped in a flooded Thai cave for more than a fortnight were rescued on Sunday, authorities said, raising hopes elite divers would also quickly save the others. The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
The order to leave the site came as irritation over the media presence grew, and a day after the rescue mission chief said conditions were ideal for the evacuation to begin.
In one, Pheerapat, nicknamed "Night", whose 16th birthday the group were celebrating in the cave when they became stuck on June 23, said: "I love you, Dad, Mum and my sister". They are physically and mentally strong, he said.
They expected the process to take two or three days with two divers escorting each boy.
"With the extra commitment of assisting these boys out of the cave, they have quite a challenge before them and they really do need to rest so that they are able to make clear decisions".
"Today we are most ready", Osatanakorn said.
France beats Uruguay, advances to World Cup semi-finals
It was a hard situation to be in, but we have overcome it and we can be very proud of ourselves", he said. England have endured a mixed campaign so far. "Set-pieces will be one key factor".
Narongsak explained the group made a decision to move forward with the mission because heavy rains are expected in the area in the coming days, which could have further complicated the rescue.
Jake Zweig said on "Fox & Friends" that he was confident in the SEALs working to rescue the 12 boys and their coach, but that there is a possibility of a rescuer losing his life.
The first rescued boys could come at 9pm local time on Sunday. Air Force Capt. Jessica Tait, a spokeswoman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told ABC News at the time. A major concern of the rescuers is that oxygen levels in their safe space could fall dangerously low.
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.
At 10am local time, 18 divers went into the cave to bring out the boys - including 13 worldwide divers and five Thai Navy Seals.
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.
The 25-year-old coach of a youth football team trapped for two weeks in a Thai cave has offered his "apologies to the parents" of the boys in a scrawled note released by the Thai Navy on Saturday (July 7).