The boys have been provided with energy gel to eat and people have been sent to keep them company while the “logistical plan” is worked out, the Thai navy SEAL unit said on its official Facebook page.
“Power gel and sustenance equipment has been brought ... to the team ... and we’ve sent people to keep them company until the transport plan can begin,” said the post.
The Navy SEALs were jubilant in tone, writing on Facebook, in English “Hooyah” at the end of the post, but warned “our mission is not over”.
Rescue could take months, says diver
This is Kate Lyons taking over from Mattha Busby.
There has been jubilation at the news the boys have been found safe. But it may be weeks, or even months, until the boys are brought out of the cave, warned one diver involved in the rescue mission.
The diver who spoke to BBC Newsnight said it could be weeks until the water subsides enough for the rescue to be completed and that none of the children can swim or dive, which will slow rescue plans.
So there’s two volunteer Navy Seal doctors that actually sacrificed themselves to stay with the kids up to three, four months until the water subsides. Now the real hard work begins to get these kids out. None of them can swim or dive so that’s going to be a real challenge.
Ben Reymenants, a Dutch rescuer who is part of the international team which is assisting the Thai authorities, has told BBC Newsnight that it was a “miracle” that the boys were still alive.
Miraculously they found the kids and they all seemed to be in good mental health,” he said in an interview with Emily Maitlis.
Obviously very weak but they’re all alive and they’ve been sitting on a piece of rock in a dry room for about ten days so that is a miracle.
He said that its quite warm in the cave, at a temperature of around 26 degrees, and water is dripping from the walls.
This meant that, luckily, the children were unlikely to have experienced dehydration and hyperthermia.
Kids usually can survive quite long without food so they’re obviously very skinny and there’s some muscle atrophy,” he explained.
Now, as we speak, there are two Navy SEAL medics went to them with food and medication to get them back to strength and then a plan will be decided to extract them from the cave because at the end of the day they are 2.3km inside a very complex cave system.
The issue is that time is not really on our side because they’re expecting heavy rains within three days and the cave system [could] just flood, making access impossible for the kids.
According to a Thai army chief, the heroic British team who helped to spearhead the search for the young footballers went straight from the plane, after they arrived in the country, into the cave to assess the situation.
When they were asked about the task at hand as they walked to the cave, John Volanthen told the BBC: “We’ve got a job to do.”
In 2010, Volanthen and Stanton were among a team that set a new world-record after diving 5.5 miles into the unexplored Pozo Azul cave system in Spain.
In an interview with the Sunday Times magazine in 2013, Volanthen, an IT consultant from Bristol, said he began caving as a scout.
“I enjoy the logistical challenge,” he said. “Getting us and all our kit to the end of such a long cave… it’s like that puzzle with the fox, the chicken and the grain. It’s not dangerous if you do it right. There are just a large number of little things that you have to be on top of at all times.”
'It’s going to be a long process before they get them out'
Thousands of gallons of water is being pumped from the cave every hour but more rain later this week is expected to complicate the boys’ escape.
“It’s going to be a long process before they get them out,” says the BBC’s Jonathan Head, who is at the scene.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 have spoken to Charli Sandford, a teenage volunteer who has been helping at the scene, as part of their coverage on the events which have unfolded throughout this evening and in recent days.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head has given this update to the BBC News at 10.
“We’ve seen growing confidence in the divers in recent days after last week when they were driven by rising waters almost back to the entrance of the cave behind me.
But we knew there were big challenges potentially ahead, nobody was sure that the boys would even be in this place they were heading for.
Nobody had any contact with them, or even [knew] if they were alive and now we’ve had this seemingly miraculous outcome.”
The segment then switched to the footage that the divers recorded when they found the boys – who were still wearing their football kits from their training session on June 23.
“How many of you?” asked John Valanthan, one of the British divers.
“Thirteen,” the boys responded in chorus, confirming the number of people who had been lost.
“What day?” they then asked.
“Monday,” Valanthan replied. “You have been here ten days. You are very strong.”
One of the boys then asked for food, telling the divers that he was hungry.
“I know. I understand. We come, OK, we come,” he responded.
Timeline: how they were found
25 June: the search and rescue operation began after the 13 went missing two days earlier after a monsoon flooded the cave’s entrance.
26 June: drainage of the cave began in order to provide divers with breathing space between the water and the ceiling.
27 June: heavy ongoing showers meant rescuers could not operate effectively.
28 June: three British divers, Richard William Stanton, Robert Charles Harper and John Volanthen, joined the search as torrential rain continued to hamper progress.
29 June: the boys’ relatives held a vigil outside of the cave as the Thai PM visited the scene.
30 June: Thai authorities dropped packages including food, medicine, torches and water through a fissure into the cave.
1 July: Thai Navy SEAL divers made encouraging progress and rescuers announced they believed the boys had a chance of survival.
2 July: The boys and their coach were found alive, although they were in “very weak” conditions.
The BBC has a moving two-minute video that sketches a picture of a nation in prayer, from the boys’ school, to their village, and back to the scene where the filmmakers speak to Rob Harper, a British caver.
It is currently 03:50 in Thailand and the boys are half-way through their tenth night in the cave.
We shall continue to update this blog throughout the night.
If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m on @MatthaBusby.
The 12 boys are members of the Moo Pa, aka Wild Boar, football team.
Their 25-year-old coach, Ekkapol Janthawong, occasionally takes them out on day trips - in fact, he took the boys on an excursion to the same cave two years ago.
The youngest member of the squad is Chanin “Titan” Wibrunrungrueang, 11, who started playing football aged seven.
The team’s captain, Duangpet “Dom” Promtep, 13, is said to be the groups’ motivating force.
The team had cycled to the cave with their coach after football practice on 23 June. Their shoes and bicycles were found at the entrance to the cave.
Football is increasingly popular in Thailand and, like much of the world, the Premier League is well-watched with many supporting Leicester City – whose owner is Thai.
The national team has never qualified for the World Cup and came bottom of their qualifying group, which was topped by Japan with Saudi Arabia coming in a point behind, for the tournament this year.
It could take hours to remove each individual child, according to Butch Hendrick, an American rescue diver, who has spoken to CNN this evening.
They’d have to make sure that each one was successfully out before they started with the next one because if they suddenly had a problem they don’t want to be halfway through the exit and realize they have to go back.
It could be multiple hours per person for sure based on the distance interior they are in the cave.
Hendrick set out the three steps that the rescue team are likely to follow when and if they decide to remove the boys.
- Medical personnel will check the boys and their assistant coach so they can decide who will go first
- They will likely be given oxygen if they can’t swim
- Two to three people will assist the boys and their coach to get through the narrow passages
Tham Luang cave is one of Thailand’s longest and one of the toughest to navigate while a sign outside the site warns visitors not to enter the cave during the rainy season between July and November.
Read Jon Henley’s updated piece for the full story as the boys remain trapped inside the cave.
Local officials and rescuers have described how the extremely narrow passageways within the cave, which go upward in some places and downward in others, have made it difficult for divers and their gear to fit through.
After they were repeatedly forced to withdraw due to the rising water levels, the divers adopted a more methodical approach using a rope line and extra oxygen supplies to help them along the way.
Meanwhile, teams on the ground have been working to pump out water, as well as divert groundwater, which would make the boys’ exit from the cave easier.
Other efforts have focused on locating mountainside shafts which could serve as a back door to the blocked-off areas.
The rescue operation team will now have to deduce which of these methods, in addition to teaching the boys how to dive, is likely to be most successful if water levels do not fall.
It is understood that the two British divers who were the first to speak to the lost boys are named Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, who are world-renowned for their rescue and recovery work in caves.
In 2010 they were specifically requested by the French authorities to help rescue a diver trapped underground for a week.
The BBC wrote about their adventures in 2016.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head, who is at the scene, told the BBC News Channel that although there is a feeling that the nine-day saga will have a happy ending, the technically “difficult way out” must now be confronted.
For the moment, for everybody here, there is just something almost unbelievable that they’re absorbing a happy ending that had seemed increasingly hard to believe in,” he said.
Now, of course, the challenge to get them out has to be confronted. There are meetings taking place now to look at what their options are, heavy rain is expected later this week, that could make the water in there a lot more dangerous.
As you can hear from the generators you’ve constantly got huge amounts of water being brought out from the caves. They may opt to try to do that to get the boys out when they get the water levels down.
They’ve clearly got to fix whatever health problems they’ve got, treat them [and] rebuild their strength before they can even think of taking them out. Or, they may consider giving them rudimentary diving training and to bring them out along the guide ropes that they’ve now established but it is a technically a very difficult way out.”