12 boys and their football coach have been trapped inside the cave since 23 June, after the ventured into the cave system to escape heavy rainfall and then became trapped by rising waters.
Last week, as hopes for rescue were fading, divers found that the boys and their coach had survived and were trapped on a ledge deep inside the cave. "They have not been moved to Chiang Rai hospital yet". A defence ministry official earlier told AFP six boys had "come out".
"Four boys have reached chamber three and will walk out of the cave shortly", Lt. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam said.
Now, while no further rescue efforts can be carried out on Sunday, there has been a breakthrough as the boys were retrieved.
Marangattupalli, Kottayam: A Thai student studying in Kerala is praying for the timely rescue of a football team trapped in a flooded cave, along with their coach, for the past two weeks in the Southeast Asian country.
Boys from the under-16 soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave receive treatment from a medic in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal. They are physically and mentally strong, he said.
Narongsak said he didn't know when the team would be able to rescue the rest of the boys but he estimated at least 10 hours and no more than 20.
Thirteen medical teams - each with its own ambulance and helicopter - await the boys and their coach, according to Reuters.
Four Thai soccer players are the first to be successfully rescued from a flooded cave hours after a complex and unsafe rescue mission commenced, according to Thai navy SEALS.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with their 25-year-old coach after their soccer practice on June 23 as they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in Northern Thailand. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days, CBS News reported.
Authorities had earlier on Sunday told the more than 1 000 journalists who had converged near the cave site's entrance to clear the area in preparation for the rescue operation.
Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osotthanakorn said at a press conference four boys are safely in the hands of doctors.
"He added: "They can not decide how many of them will be able to come out for the first operation".
Rescuers have suggested that it may take up to two days for the rescue to be completed, with each boy being brought out individually.