EDIT: It seems that it was two British divers by the name of Rick Stanton and John Volanthen who first came across the trapped boys and their coach. Watch the video of them discovering the kids here at BBC.
All 12 boys and their coach have been found alive after severe flooding trapped them in a cave system in northern Thailand. For ten days they have been struggling to survive, as rescue personnel from the Thai military, local officials, the U.S. military and foreign caving and topological experts all worked tirelessly to locate and reach the trapped soccer team (ages 11-16 and their coach, age 25).
The rescue teams have been working against relentless rains that hindered their every move — pumping the water out of a cave system is almost impossible when it is actively flooding again. The rain also affected electrical equipment used outside to aid in the search. It made it far more difficult for rescue parties entering the cave to reach, as divers had difficulty contorting themselves around small turns and through narrow passageways in the flooding caves as it continued to rain.
However, the Underwater Demolition Assault Unit (UDAU), colloquially known as the Thai Navy SEALs, were able to discover the boys’ location and reach them safely. They are currently too weak to move, and certainly not strong enough to swim out under their own power, but they are all alive. They have sent food, but are waiting to pump out all the remaining water before they can actually remove the children and their coach from the cave system.
Chiang Rai’s governor, Narongsak Osottanakorn, has confirmed that the entire team is safe. But, he says, “Our mission [is] not done yet. We will drain all water out from the cave then we will take all 13 people out of the cave. We are now planning how to send nurse and doctor inside the cave to check their health and movement. We will work all night.”
The nurse and doctor are reportedly dive certified, and will swim up to meet the trapped soccer team alongside the Royal Thai SEALs. The goal is to get them out by tomorrow, but they do not want to risk moving them before they are stable.
But now that contact has been made, the most dangerous part is over. The hard work of rescuers from all around the globe has paid off, and it’s just a matter of time before the evacuation can go through and the recovery stages can begin.
Family members have congregated outside the cave system, relieved at the news. The family members and rescue workers have all been going through this for ten straight days, and hope dwindled each passing day that turned out unsuccessful. Every report from the ground says that while work continues without pause, they are all incredibly relieved to have found the boys.
Here are some of the pictures of the rescue operation up to this point:
Featured image: In this handout photo released by Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center, Thai rescue teams walk inside cave complex where 12 boys and their soccer coach went missing, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, Monday, July 2, 2018. Rescue divers are advancing in the main passageway inside the flooded cave in northern Thailand where the boys and their coach have been missing more than a week. | Tham Luang Rescue Operation Center via AP