Rescue operations have begun for the 12 boys and their coach trapped at the Thailand cave for more than two weeks.
On Sunday, after at least eight hours since a team of divers started rescue efforts, at least four boys have emerged from the cave, as reported by multiple news outlets. In addition, two ambulances were seen leaving the site with one boy believed to be in each.
A team of 13 international cave diving experts and five Thai Navy SEALs entered the cave with the mission of accompanying each boy one by one through the flooded tunnels, that claimed the life of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver on Friday.
“Two kids are out. They are currently at the field hospital near the cave,” Tossathep Boonthong, chief of Chiang Rai’s health department and part of the rescue team, told Reuters. “We are giving them a physical examination. They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet.”
Rescue mission chief and Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotanakorn called the operation “D-Day” as he gave a press conference on Sunday.
“Today is D-Day. We are 100% ready. There’s a storm coming and if we wait for the rains, conditions won’t be as perfect as they are now,” Osottanakorn told reporters, according to TIME.
Osotanakorn also explained that the boys and their coach will be evacuated using a common cave exploration method called “buddy diving,” chaperoned by two experts or “buddies.”
With the entire round trip estimated to take roughly 11 hours to complete for each boy, officials predict the rescue efforts could take two to three days before the entire team is out of the cave.
President Donald Trump tweeted about the rescue efforts on Sunday morning, writing, “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!”
The soccer players (ages 11-16) and their coach were found late Monday after rescue teams, including members of the U.S. military, had been searching the flooded cave for the team since June 23, Osatanakorn said, according to the Associated Press.
In a video posted by the Thai Navy SEALS on their Facebook page Tuesday, the soccer team is seen inside the partially flooded cavern wrapped in foil blankets. As their faces are lit by a flashlight one by one, each boy introduces himself by folding their hands and saying they are healthy, according to the New York Times.
On Friday evening, a Thai Navy SEAL shared the collection of notes retrieved from the soccer team on Facebook. “The kids said ‘don’t worry,’ everyone is strong, they have a long list of food they want to eat when they get outside,” the Navy SEAL said of the team’s joint letter, according to translations provided by TIME.