'Today is D-Day': Rescuers begin mission to extract Thai cave boys

Former navy SEAL died from lack of oxygen while trying to rescue Thai soccer team in cave authorities say

Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks, as a unsafe and complicated plan unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

Meanwhile, as CNN reported on Sunday, the rescue effort in Thailand has assembled divers and Navy Seal personnel from various countries including the United States and Thailand itself, which saw one elite diver die on Friday during the operation to save the boys. The boys' ordeal of the has drawn huge media attention in Thailand and overseas, and getting the boys out safely could be a boost for Thailand's junta ahead of a general election next year.

The daring rescue mission began early Sunday morning more than 2 weeks after the team became trapped in the cave.

The entire operation to get all 13 out of the cave could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, army Maj.

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Mongkhol Boonpiam, 14, has been named by some Thai media as one of the rescued boys.

Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the risky mission to bring out the 12 boys and their soccer coach earlier on Sunday. Upon rescue, the boys will receive an initial medical assessment at a makeshift triage site before being airlifted to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, which is about 70 km away from the cave.

Narongsak said that conditions inside the cave were the best they could hope for and that water levels were now so low after days of good weather and constant draining that long stretches of the passage were now walk-able.

An additional eight boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach are still inside the Tham Luang cave, where they've been trapped by flood waters since June 23. "If that's the case, then we have to reassess the situation", he said.

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Each boy had to wear a full scuba mask, wetsuit, boots and a helmet as they made their way through the dark and perilous passageways.

It is not yet known whether the boys swum out, or if they were sedated and delivered by the rescuers.

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter Sunday that his government is working "very closely" with Thai officials.

Divers have brought the boys "food, electrolyte drinks, drinking water, medicine and oxygen canisters", the AP reports.

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An Australian doctor with cave diving experience examined the boys on Sunday and declared them fit for the operation, authorities said. In addition to treatment areas, the hospital will also provide reunion rooms for the young boys and their families. Officials went on to say the next cave rescue attempt will take place in 10-20 hours. They gave a deadline of 9:00 am to clear out, setting off a frenzy of moving and packing.

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