THAM LUANG CAVE: Thai authorities 13 foreign divers and five SEALs went in at 10am (local time) on Sunday (Jul 8) to rescue a dozen boys and their football coach who have been trapped in Tham Luang cave since Jun 23.
Rescue operation chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said in his latest press conference that each child will be escorted by two divers and the first is expected to arrive at 9pm (local time).
He added that they will continue to arrive one by one with evacuation expected to carry on until tomorrow and the next update on the mission will come after 9pm.
"Today is the D-day. The boys are ready to face any challenges," rescue chief Narongsak added.
According to Narongsak, the 13 foreign divers are cave diving experts from around the world, while the five Thai SEALs were selected carefully.
He said the divers can walk in many parts of the cave now and therefore it is the most suitable time to bring them out.
The boys, aged between 11 and 16, went missing with the 25-year-old after soccer practice on Jun 23 after they set out to explore the Tham Luang cave complex in a forest park near by the border with Myanmar.
The announcement came as dark monsoon rainclouds loomed over the mountainous north of the country early on Sunday, potentially heightening risks at the cave where rescuers were still waging a “war with water and time” to save 12 trapped boys and their assistant coach.
Following a relatively dry spell, fresh torrential downpours could pose a setback to rescuers who have struggled to drain the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai.
Weather.com forecast sustained thunderstorms lasting through Sunday and Monday, with further stormy weather expected for around the next two weeks.
READ MORE | Full coverage of the search and rescue operation: