Twelve boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in northern Thailand are in good health, authorities said Tuesday, but it is unclear when they will be able to leave the flooded cavern.
The boys, all members of a youth soccer team aged 11 to 16, and their assistant coach, aged 25, were found late Monday by rescue divers after a dramatic search lasting more than a week in the mountainous province of Chiang Rai.
Provincial Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters early Tuesday that all 13 of them had undergone health assessments and were found to be in good condition on a scale of “red, yellow and green.” Most were found to be in the green category.
Narongsak said it’s still unclear when they will be able to leave the cave, due to flooding and other factors that could complicate their exit. The Thai Navy SEALs leading the rescue mission will determine when they can “bring them out in 100% safety.”
Once extracted, the boys and their coach will be transferred to Chiang Rai Region General Hospital, where the entire 8th floor is being held for their arrival. Thirteen ambulances are on standby to transport them.
The boys are believed to have entered the Tham Luang cave after soccer practice with their assistant coach, Ekkapol Chantawong, on what was meant to be a half-day trek. But monsoon rains flooded several chambers and blocked their exit.
The saga of the trapped team has gripped the nation as search efforts snowballed from a small local team to a multinational emergency response. U.S. and Australian military personnel came to support Thai authorities, as well as technical experts from the U.K., China, Japan and elsewhere.
Rescuers initially believed they had likely taken shelter in a large chamber known as Pattaya Beach, roughly 3.5 miles from the cave’s entrance. A pair of British divers assisting the Thai SEALs found them some 1,300 feet further into the complex after discovering Pattaya was also flooded.
A video shared by the Thai Navy captured their first contact.
“How many of you?” a British voice asks as a flashlight scans the young boys huddled in a corner.
“Thirteen,” a voice rang out.
“Thirteen?” asked the diver. “Brilliant.”