'They're all alive': exhausted rescue diver thrilled after Thai soccer team located

Thailand cave rescue efforts pick up pace as flooding eases

Detective Superintendent Thomas Hester said the AFP Specialist Response Group team, which arrived in Chiang Rai on Saturday night Thailand time, faced "incredibly challenging" conditions.

Divers reached the same spot earlier in the week but were forced back by rushing floodwaters. The system is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long, and one of the most hard cave systems to navigate due to narrow passages and winding tunnels.

While the aim is to take the boys out of the cave, that depends on the ability of the rescuers to pump water out of the cave and also the health of the children and coach.

In the video an unidentified diver, speaking with a British accent, urges the group to stay calm and says "many, many people are coming. we are the first".

The search for the group had gripped the nation as it was unclear where they were or whether they even were still alive.

The boys aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach, reportedly entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province more than a week ago.

After an initial exchange in which a rescuer ascertains that all 13 are present, one of the boys asks what day it is, and a rescuer replies: "Monday".

Twelve young footballers and their assistant coach survived being trapped for 10 days in Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai by minimizing their movements and drinking water that dripped from limestone.

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He said "supplying them on site may face challenges depending on how hard the dives are".

The 13 were located by rescue divers late on Monday night (Tuesday NZ Time) in the cave in northern Chiang Rai province during a desperate search that lasted more than a week and drew worldwide help.

The mothers and families of the missing boys have held prayer sessions at the entrance to the cave, where there is a shrine with a statue of the Buddha.

"The distance we've got still got to go is probably two to three kilometres", Narongsak Osottanakorn, governor of Chiang Rai province, told reporters.

As part of the rescue effort, search parties have been lowered down shafts on the mountainside, but it was unclear what progress they had made, or exactly where they were in relation to the "Pattaya Beach" chamber.

Thai authorities say they are committed to "100 percent safety" when they consider how to extract the boys, who don't appear to be in urgent need of medical evacuation. That could take months, however, given that Thailand's rainy season typically lasts through October. "The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and cooperation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery". An official Australian group has followed a US military team, British cave experts, Chinese lifesaving responders and several other volunteer groups from various countries.

"If we had to choose between green as the best, yellow, and red the worst, they look to be green", Narongsak said.

Hopes were also high for finding some kind of access through fissures on the mountainside that might lead to shafts into the cave. Each package contains food, beverages, a phone, a flashlight, candles, a lighter and a map of the cave.

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