Sunday is finally the day when the saga of the Thai youth soccer team trapped in a cave could be coming to an end. However, the boys and their coach are far from out of the woods yet. Updates from the Thai cave rescue so far say that some of the boys are out — but many more still have to make the exceedingly challenging journey.
According to the BBC, the rescue is happening in stages, and having six boys out of the cave now means that there are still six boys — plus their coach — to go. While they were initially debating rescue methods that could have had the boys waiting for longer, CNN reported that upcoming rain forecasts forced Thai authorities to act immediately. The BBC wrote that some options were having the team stay underground until the rainy season passed or finding a spot to drill into the cave and get them out that way.
The Telegraph reported that news of the health status of each of the boys extracted from the caves has remained vague; so far, they reported that two boys were airlifted to a hospital and one was being treated at a makeshift hospital on the ground. However, there haven't been any clear indicators of what kind of condition the boys are in.
According to CNN, the full rescue team consists of 13 expert divers from around the world and five Thai Navy SEALS. The BBC described that each boy would embark on the approximately 11 hour journey out accompanied by two divers, one leading the boy and carrying his air tank, and the other trailing. It's a very difficult route, a fact underscored by the tragedy that took place earlier this week when a former Thai Navy diver perished while coming back from a mission to deliver oxygen to the boys.
Before the rescue operation had officially begun, the Guardian reported that it could take through the end of the day on Monday — that is, two full days — to rescue all of the boys. The boys and their rescuers would be able to walk part of the route, the Guardian wrote, because of water drainage efforts and some natural draining. However, some of the diving that remains is difficult even for experienced cave divers — and some of the boys didn't know how to swim when they got trapped in the cave.
The Thai soccer youth team was finally found on July 2, after being trapped underground for about a week. According to the Washington Post, the British cave diving duo that found the boys initially, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, are "arguably the best in the world," as a spokesman for the British Caving Association said. For divers like Stanton and Volanthen, the dive would be a fairly easy trip. Making it with 13 completely inexperienced cave divers, though, is another story entirely.
According to the Telegraph, the group of people who have been working over the past several days to figure out an escape plan for the boys included about 1,000 people from around the world, many of it flown in specifically for their expertise in cave diving. According to CNN, about 90 people are directly working on the rescue operation now.
CNN also reported that the governor of the Chiang Mai region, where the cave is located, confirmed that four boys had been rescued — contradicting the BBC's reporting that six boys had already been taken out. He also said that the rescue operation went ten minutes more quickly than drills had led them to expect. The boys, he said, had been carried throughout the passages when they didn't have to dive. As successful as this method has been so far, it's reasonable to expect that they will use it for the rest of the trapped boys if the conditions don't significantly change.