US special operations teams and divers have been part of the Thai-led worldwide rescue effort that led to four boys being pulled to safety from a cave Sunday after being trapped for 16 days.
The first two boys emerged about nightfall from the Tham Luang cave complex after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) through twisting, narrow and jagged passageways.
Relatives of the missing boys show photos of them after the 12 boys and their soccer coach have been found alive in the cave where they've been missing for over a week after monsoon rains blocked the main entrance on July 02, 2018 in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
On Saturday, Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osoththanakorn had told reporters a rescue attempt was expected in the next few days, but that the onset of monsoon rains could trigger an earlier operation.
"Six of them came out", a defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP. Today is D-Day.' Fearing further flooding, he said the children, aged 11 to 16, might be stuck until January if they ignored yesterday's chance.
The entire world as been riveted as efforts were underway Sunday to rescue the 12 boys, all members of a youth soccer team.
Thailand has waited anxiously for news of the safe return of the boys and their 25-year-old coach since they became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23, in a saga that has dominated global headlines. Their ordeal has drawn huge media attention in Thailand and overseas, and getting the boys out safely could be a boost for Thailand's ruling junta ahead of a general election next year.
But for many in Thailand, Mr Ekapol, who left monkhood three years ago, is an nearly divine force, sent to protect the boys as they go through this ordeal.More news: U.S. Excluded from Iran Nuclear Deal Summit in Vienna
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Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created the "perfect" conditions for an underwater evacuation.
The four kids were taken out first because they were the weakest in terms of health, officials said.
The administration meanwhile, has lost track of numerous parents - as well as the children - and it is uncertain when, if ever, they can be reunited.
The potential for rising water and the dwindling oxygen levels added to the urgency of getting the team out. But authorities have said it remains unclear how long the boys would have to remain inside. He has also thanked worldwide experts who helped find the boys.
Musk tweeted that he was working with a team from his Space X rocket company to build a "tiny kid-size submarine" to transport the boys.
The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers. "I had been anxious about my son, that he would be exhausted, he would be tired", he said. "You don't need to be anxious about me".