Rescuers in Thailand are working furiously to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach, who have been trapped in a cave for 2 weeks, reported ABC.
Authorities said at a press conference Sunday morning in Chiang Rai province that they decided to remove the boys as oxygen drops. They are also concerned that monsoon threats would increase the water levels in the cave if they wait any longer.
It will be a lengthy operation. Officials said the first boy was expected to come out at 9 p.m. local time, or 10 a.m. Sunday Eastern time.
At 10 a.m. local time, 13 divers and five SEALs entered the cave to begin the operation.
"They insist they are ready to come out," former provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said Sunday of the rescue team. "Family has already been notified."
Divers will go down to escort the kids out of the cave. Thankfully, water levels were down 30 percent, said an official said at the press conference.
The officials also said they had ruled out the potential for drilling into the cave from above. Since seasonal monsoon rains forecast to hit the region this weekend and throughout next week have yet to occur, they've decided to move forward with the rescue. They also reported that efforts on the ground to remove floodwater and divert water flows have been "very successful."
Rescuers are now able to walk rather than swim or dive from the cave's main entrance to an inner chamber serving as a command center.
"We are very happy with the water situation here," he said. "The perfect situation would be to have zero water, which is impossible. The water level would be zero during December or January, so this situation is absolutely impossible. The next best situation would be if the water level is as low as possible to move the kids."
While they have been able to divert water, rescuers are still struggling to maintain safe oxygen levels inside the cave. The inner chamber that is set up as "forward operating base" now has low oxygen levels due to the number of people inside.
They have tried pumping "pure air" through a tube into the chamber. However, that has not been completely successful, and they have had to pull back nonessential personnel in an effort to preserve oxygen, according to Narongsak.
Please join us in praying for these boys and their coach. The danger is far from over. May God cover them with His protection.