In Thailand, twelve boys aged 11-16 and their football coach got stuck in a flooded cave for over two weeks. They were found alive following a grueling search by divers.
With fresh monsoon rains due, rescuers warn the window of opportunity to evacuate the boys is “limited.”
Here is how the rescue attempt has unfolded so far:
SATURDAY, JUNE 23
The youngsters, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach enter the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand during heavy rains after football practice. They are reported missing by a mother after her son does not come home that night. Local officials find bicycles locked to a fence and shoes and football boots close to the entrance.
SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Park officials and police find handprints and footprints believed to belong to the boys and think they likely retreated into the winding tunnels as they became hemmed in by rising floodwaters. Relatives start to keep a vigil outside the cave.
MONDAY, JUNE 25
Thai Navy SEAL divers enter the cave searching for the boys. Makeshift shrines are set up for parents to pray and make offerings, as heavy rains continue.
The boys are believed to have retreated further into the cave to an elevated air pocket called “Pattaya Beach.”
TUESDAY, JUNE 26
Divers reach a T-junction several kilometers inside the cave but are forced back by rushing floodwaters that clog a narrow crevice near Pattaya Beach.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
A team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command arrive. They are joined by three British diving experts who go into the cave’s entrance but quickly retreat because of heavy flooding.
THURSDAY, JUNE 28
The underwater rescue is temporarily halted because of the fast-moving floods inside the cave as downpours refuse to let up. Water pumps are shipped in to drain the rising, murky floodwaters. Drones are dispatched to help find new chimneys.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha visits the site and leads a meditation, asking the boys’ relatives not to give up hope.
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
A break in the bad weather allows divers to reach further inside the cave, but they are still far away from where the boys are believed to be.
SUNDAY, JULY 1
Divers inch further into the cave, as an operating base is set up inside and hundreds of air tanks and other supplies are pulleyed in. Rescuers can now remain underground for longer.
MONDAY, JULY 2
A miracle, finally: the 12 boys and their coach are found alive late Monday evening about 400 meters beyond Pattaya Beach, which had become threatened by encroaching flood waters.
Crowds at the teeming rescue site cheer the good news and a nation breathes a sigh of relief. But attention turns to the difficult task of getting the boys out safely.
TUESDAY, JULY 3
Much-needed food and medical supplies — including high-calorie gels and paracetamol — reach the boys as rescuers prepare for the possibility that they may remain in the cave for some time.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 4
Officials say the group are being taught how to use diving masks and breathing apparatus. Authorities are pumping out water round-the-clock, aware of the bad weather forecast in the days ahead.
THURSDAY, JULY 5
In a sign of increased urgency, Thai rescuers say they may be prodded into a complex extraction if forecast rains hammer the mountainside. A team of bird’s nest collectors scour the mountainside for openings.
FRIDAY, JULY 6
Tragedy strikes: a diver helping to establish an airline to the boys dies after passing out while returning from the chamber.
Saman Kunan’s death raises serious doubts over the safety of trying to bring them out through the cramped, waterlogged passageways. Thailand’s Navy SEAL commander says oxygen levels inside have dropped. He warns the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is “limited”, in the first official admission that they cannot wait out the monsoon underground.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says it is “not suitable” to make the boys dive to safety yet. The head of the rescue mission says more than 100 chimneys are being drilled into the mountainside in a frantic bid to reach the boys.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
Four boys have been rescued. The four who were rescued were taken to a hospital in Chiang Rai for evaluation. Two divers were assigned to each child to help them navigate the dangerous, narrow passageways.
SUNDAY, JULY 8
The fifth and sixth boy have been rescued, with the rest of the boys on their way.
Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has proposed a mini submarine to save the boys trapped inside a flooded Thai cave, floating the idea on social media while linking it to his space exploration business.
After garnering headlines with initial ideas of installing a giant air tube inside the cave and using his firm’s penetrating radar to dig holes to reach the boys, Musk’s latest concept is the pod.
“Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull,” Musk said in a tweet to his 22 million followers. “Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust.”
An accompanying video of people testing the submarine in a swimming pool in Los Angeles that was posted overnight Sunday attracted more than 3.1 million views in 10 hours.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018