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TIMELINE: Thai cave rescue

/ 03:19 PM July 10, 2018

Thai soldiers walk into to the Tham Luang cave area as the operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 10, 2018.
Rescuers raced to save four young footballers and their coach who remain trapped in a flooded Thai cave on July 10, as heavy rains threatened an already perilous escape mission that has seen eight of the boys extracted in “good health”. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU

The unprecedented mission to evacuate the “Wild Boar” football team and their coach from a flooded Thai cave entered its end game Tuesday as rescuers said they will guide the remaining four boys and their coach to freedom.

The last part of the complex operation, which has gripped Thailand and dominated global headlines, could put an end to the 18-day saga that started when the team entered the cave on June 23.

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One of two ambulances with flashing lights leaves the cave rescue area in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand, Monday, July 9, 2018. The ambulance has left the cave complex area hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue a youth soccer team trapped inside the cave for more than two weeks. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Here is a timeline of the efforts:

Saturday, June 23 

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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 after the boys do 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. Relatives start to keep 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.

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Tuesday, June 26 

Divers are forced out of the cave by rushing floodwaters as they try to reach an air pocket called “Pattaya Beach”, where the boys are believed to have retreated.

Wednesday, June 27 

A team of more than 30 American military personnel from the US Pacific Command arrive and are joined by three British diving experts who start to probe the cave.

Thursday, June 28

Downpours create fast-moving floods inside the cave forcing a suspension of the rescue. Water pumps start draining rising, murky floodwaters.

Friday, June 29 

Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha visits the site and urges relatives not to give up hope.

Saturday, June 30

A break in the rain allows divers to reach further inside the cave but they are still a long distance from where the boys are believed to be.

Sunday, July 1
Divers inch further in, as an operating base is set up inside ‘Chamber Three’ and hundreds of air tanks and other supplies are pulleyed in.

Monday, July 2 

Finally, a miracle: the 12 boys and their coach are found alive late Monday evening about 400 meters beyond Pattaya Beach by the British cave diving team.

Crowds at the teeming rescue site cheer the good news, but attention soon 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 apparatuses. Teams pump out water around the clock to help clear the path for divers.

Thursday, July 5 

Authorities say expected rains may force a complex rescue quicker than first thought.

Friday, July 6 

Tragedy strikes: a diver helping to establish an air line to the boys dies after passing out while returning from the chamber, raising serious doubts over the safety of attempting a rescue.

Thailand’s Navy SEAL commander says oxygen levels inside have dropped. He warns the window of opportunity to free the youngsters is “limited”.

Royal Thai Navy divers

In this undated photo released by Royal Thai Navy on Saturday, July 7, 2018, Thai rescue team members walk inside a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach have been trapped since June 23, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. The local governor in charge of the mission to rescue them said Saturday that cooperating weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created appropriate conditions for evacuation, but that they won’t last if it rains again. (Photo form Royal Thai Navy via AP)

Saturday, July 7 

Rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn says the boys are not ready to dive to safety.

A scrawled message emerges from the team’s coach, offering his “apologies” to their parents, while in other touching notes the boys tell their relatives not to worry.

Sunday, July 8 

Divers lead four of the boys out of the cave as night falls, sending them to the hospital.

Narongsak says late in the evening that the rescue mission will not start again for at least another 10 hours to allow oxygen and other supplies to be replenished.

Monday, July 9 

As dusk falls four more boys are rescued. The Thai Navy SEALs greet another seemingly successful day with a social media post saying “Hooyah”.

This photo tweeted by Elon Musk shows efforts underway to rescue trapped members of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in northern Thailand. Musk tweeted early Tuesday, July 10, 2018, he has visited the cave and has left a mini-submarine there for future use. (Courtesy of Elon Musk via AP)

Tuesday, July 10 

The final phase of the operation begins with the rescue chief saying the remaining four boys and the coach, will be “extracted today” alongside three Thai Navy SEALs and doctor who have stayed with them.

Health officials say the eight rescued so far are in good physical and mental health but more tests are being carried out.    /vvp

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