The rescue mission of free 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave in northern Thailand is running “smoothly”, the head of the operation says.
Four boys have been brought above ground so far in good health, rescuers say.
The entire country of Thailand can breathe a sigh of some relief after a mission has now been paused for at least 10 hours as air tanks need to be replaced saw the successful rescue of four of the twelve boys and their football coach trapped in a cave.
Rescuers decided to go ahead with the hazardous operation on Sunday because of fears of rising waters which resulted in the first phase been carried out much sooner than anticipated.
The next phase would begin on Monday morning, after relaying “all of the air tanks and all systems along the way”, Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn said.
Divers have been guiding the boys through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system. They have reportedly been able to make the last part of the journey on foot.
The group and their families had all given their agreement that they should be moved as soon as possible, said Mr Narongsak.
This is a hugely high-profile rescue attempt and Thailand knows the world is watching. It has embarked on a dangerous option but believes it’s the best for bringing the group out alive.
It has assembled a team of internationally renowned divers and so far their expertise has brought four boys – thought to be the weakest – back to their families.
But the relief of those mums and dads will be tempered by the knowledge that nine other families face an anxious wait for the turn of their loved ones to be shepherded through the narrow and murky corridors of the Tham Luang cave complex.
As one diving expert tried to clarify, when underwater cave rescues go wrong they go wrong in a big way. So despite this promising start, there is a sense of unease here in Chiang Mai. But the overriding impression from the rescuers is a clear focus and unshakeable resolve to finish the job.
Here at hitvibz our thoughts and prayers remain with the boys and their families at this very challenging time.
Sources: BBC News & Skynews, Sakchai Lalit/AP