How the Thailand cave ordeal unfolded

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A day-by-day look at the ordeal of 12 boys and their football coach, who were trapped deep inside a flooded cave in northern Thailand for more than two weeks:

Vehicles at a checkpoint near the entrance to the cave complex in Thailand
Vehicles at a checkpoint near the entrance to the cave complex in Thailand (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

June 24: Search and rescue teams comprising local authorities, police and rescue workers find football boots and backpacks left behind by the boys near the cave entrance.

June 25: As the search expands, handprints and footprints thought to belong to the boys are found farther from the cave entrance. Parents holding a vigil outside begin prayer sessions.

June 26: About a dozen Thai navy Seals and other searchers penetrate the cave, but interior minister Anupong Paojinda tells reporters they are seriously handicapped by muddy water that has filled some chambers of the large cave to their ceilings.

June 27: More heavy rainfall stymies search efforts, flooding underground passages faster than water can be pumped out. A US military team and British cave experts, along with several other private teams of foreign cavers, join the operation.

Thailand cave rescue
(PA Graphics)

June 29: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visits the cave site and urges relatives of the missing not to give up hope. Efforts to drain the cave with pumps make little progress.

June 30: The effort to locate the missing picks up pace again, as a break in the rain eases flooding in the system of caverns and more experts from around the world, including Australia and China, join the rescue mission. In anticipation of finding the boys, an evacuation drill is held to practise how they will be sent to hospital after leaving the cave.

July 1: Rescue divers advance into the main passageway inside the flooded cave and set up a staging area inside. Thai navy Seals reach a bend where the kilometre-long passage splits in two directions.

July 2: Two expert British cave divers, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, locate the missing boys and their coach. They record video of the boys talking with them.

July 4: Seven navy Seals and a doctor join the boys with food and medicine. Options are discussed about whether the boys should be taken out of the cave with divers soon or kept in place until conditions improve.

July 5: The boys continue with diving lessons in case a decision is made to extract them through a route that is partially underwater. The effort to pump out water is increased.

July 6: Officials indicate that they favour extracting the boys as soon as possible, fearing further danger if they are forced to stay inside by more rain causing additional flooding. Concern increases about falling oxygen levels inside the cave. A former navy Seal aiding the rescue effort dies from a lack of oxygen during his mission.

July 7: Officials suggest that an underwater evacuation will be made in the following few days because of predictions of a rainstorm. However, they say the boys’ diving skills are not yet where they need to be.

An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave in Thailand
An ambulance believed to be carrying one of the rescued boys from the flooded cave in Thailand (Vincent Thian/AP)

July 9: Divers take four more boys to safety during the second day of the rescue operation. This leaves four boys and their coach still inside the cave.

July 10: On the third day of the rescue operation, divers bring out the remaining four boys and their coach, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks.

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