2 Boys Escape After Being Trapped in Flooded Thailand Cave, Local Media Reports

July 8, 2018 Updated: July 8, 2018

Two boys are reported to have exited a cave after being trapped for 16 days deep inside the flooded underground system.

Local media Khaosod English reported that the first two unidentified children have successfully exited the caves and are being cared for at a field medical tent after a successful rescue guided by professional divers.

The chief of Chiang Rai’s health department, Tossathep Boonthong, told Reuters, “Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave.”

Shortly after, footage from the BBC showed an ambulance leaving the cave site. ChannelNewsAsia correspondents wrote on Twitter that a helicopter had also taken off from the cave site towards Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, which is 60 kilometers (37 miles) away.

The divers would have guided them back to the cave entrance through more than 4 kilometers or treacherous partly-flooded terrain.

The first boy walked out of the cave at 5:40 p.m. local time, with the second not far behind at 5:50 p.m., Khaosod English reported.

Officials in earlier estimates did not expect the boys to emerge until 9 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET). But it seems reports of low water levels have allowed the speed up of rescue efforts.

The first reports of the two boys emerging were heard by police radio chatter, which revealed that two boys were in the field hospital near the cave entrance and would soon be transferred to a waiting helicopter at Baan Chong football field.

The helicopters and 13 ambulances are standing by as the rest of the team are expected to emerge from the cave over the next few hours, Khaosod English reported.

Rescuers began the mission at 10 a.m. local time, the acting Chiang Rai Governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, told reporters earlier on July 8.

“We’ve rehearsed [the medical preparations] for the past three to four days. We even practiced with a real kid—practicing the position of O2 tank and the marking … I assure you that we are very ready in this mission.

“I ask you all to patiently wait for news and send support and wish them success,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.