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Hopes soar for boys trapped in Thai cave as ambulance leaves affected area

Media reports said some of the footballers had been safely removed hours after a rescue operation began.

One of two ambulances leave the cave in northern Thailand (Sakchai Lalit/AP)
One of two ambulances leave the cave in northern Thailand (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Two ambulances were seen leaving a cave in northern Thailand on Sunday evening where 12 young footballers and their coach have been trapped for more than two weeks, hours after an operation began to rescue them.

The ambulances then drove to a nearby helipad, and a helicopter which had been deployed there to take any extracted youngsters to hospital was seen taking off.

Local reports say some of the boys have been evacuated from the cave.

The operation to rescue the 12 boys and their coach by having them dive out of the flooded cave where they have been trapped for more than two weeks began in the morning.

Expert divers entered the sprawling complex for the complicated and dangerous mission.

Chiang Rai province acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is heading the operation, said 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they are gradually extracted.

A photo released via the Thailand Navy Seal Facebook page shows rescuers with hands locked (AP)

“Divers will work with doctors in the cave to examine each the kids’ health to determine who should get to come out first,” the governor said.

The entire operation to rescue all 13 could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Major General Chalongchai Chaiyakam.

The only way to bring the boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach out of Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air.

A former Thai navy Seal died making the dive on Friday.

Press Association

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