Rescue teams have found all 12 boys and their soccer coach alive in a cave in Thailand nine days after the group went missing, according to a high-ranking person involved in the search and rescue operation.
The boys, who range in ages from 11 to 16 years old and are all members of the Wild Boar soccer team, entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system on Saturday, June 23, for a team outing, but became stranded in the dark tunnels by a sudden and continuous downpour.
The international rescue operation — which includes the Thai Navy SEALs as well as experts from the US, China, Australia and the UK — had been working to reach a large, deep chamber, informally named Pattaya Beach, where they believed the missing boys had taken refuge.
“I confirm they are all safe,” Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on Monday night.
Osottanakorn said the rescuers had managed to reach Pattaya Beach and found that it was also flooded. The Thai Navy SEAL divers continued a further 300 to 400 meters where they located the team.
The team was seen for the first time in 10 days in a video posted to Facebook by Thai Navy SEALs. In the almost 5-minute clip, the boys are illuminated by torchlight while a rescuer can be heard speaking to them.
“How many of you?” One of the rescuers calls out in English, before a faint “Thirteen!” is heard in response.
“Thirteen? Brilliant!” the rescuer says, before continuing: “We are coming, it’s OK, many people are coming … we are the first.”
The boys ask what day it is. “Monday, you have been here 10 days, 10 days,” the rescuer explains. “You are very strong, very strong.”
Amid the emotional discovery, Governor Osottanakorn warned that the mission is “not done yet” and a medical team needs to enter the cave network to assess the boys.
“We will drain all water out from the cave then we will take all 13 people out of the cave. We are now planning how to send nurse and doctor inside the cave to check their health and movement. We will work all night,” Osottanakorn said.