Thai cave rescue: Day by day... how the dramatic operation to bring the boys and their coach to safety unfolded
After a morning practice, 12 members of the local Wild Boars youth football team cycle with their 25-year-old coach to the Tham Luang Nang Non cave to explore, when heavy rains begin. When none of the boys return home after dark and cannot be contacted, parents report them as missing. Their bikes are found parked and locked at the cave entrance as a search begins around midnight.
- Thai cave rescue: It was mission impossible, but we did it - all of trapped football team is brought out of Thai cave
Search and rescue teams comprising local authorities, police and rescue workers find football boots and backpacks left behind by the boys near the cave entrance.
As the search expands, handprints and footprints thought to belong to the boys are found farther from the cave entrance. Parents holding a vigil outside begin prayer sessions.
About a dozen Thai Navy Seals and other searchers penetrate the cave, but interior minister Anupong Paojinda tells reporters they are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to their ceilings, making visibility a serious problem.
More heavy rainfall stymies search efforts, flooding underground passages faster than water can be pumped out. A US military team and British cave experts, along with several other private teams of foreign cavers, join the operation.
Efforts begin to drain groundwater from the cave by drilling from outside into the mountain. A search for other entrances to the cave intensifies as diving is temporarily suspended for safety reasons.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visits the cave site and urges relatives of the missing not to give up hope. Efforts to drain the cave with pumps make little progress.
The effort to locate the missing group picks up pace again as a break in the rain eases flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world, including Australia and China, join the rescue mission. In anticipation of finding the boys, an evacuation drill is held to practise how they will be sent to hospital after leaving the cave.
Rescue divers advance into the main passageway inside the flooded cave and set up a staging area. Thai Navy Seals reach a bend where the kilometre-long passage splits in two.
Two expert British cave divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, locate the missing boys and their coach. They record video of the boys talking with them.
The videos are released and show the boys taking turns introducing themselves, folding their hands together in a traditional Thai greeting and saying their names. The boys also say they are healthy. One of the boys appears to be wearing a red replica England football shirt.
Seven Navy Seals and a doctor join the boys with food and medicine. Options are discussed about whether the boys should be taken out of the cave with divers soon or kept in place until conditions improve.
The boys continue with diving lessons in case a decision is made to extract them through a route that is partially underwater. The effort to pump out water is increased.
Officials indicate that they favour extracting the boys as soon as possible, fearing further danger if they are forced to stay inside by more rain causing additional flooding. Concern increases about falling oxygen levels inside the cave. A former Navy Seal aiding the rescue effort dies from a lack of oxygen during his mission.
Officials suggest that an underwater evacuation will be made in the following few days because of predictions of a rainstorm. However, they say the boys' diving skills are not yet where they need to be.
The official heading the rescue operation declares that "D-Day" has arrived as he announces the start of the operation to bring the boys and their coach out of the cave. Divers take four of the boys out through tight passages and flooded caverns.
Divers take four more boys to safety during the second day of the rescue operation. This leaves four boys and their coach still inside the cave.
On the third day of the rescue operation, divers bring out the remaining four boys and their coach, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks.