The plan to rescue 12 youth soccer players and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand is working, according to officials.
Reuters reports that four of the boys, aged between 11 and 16, were guided out of the flooded cave Sunday morning. Another eight boys and their 25-year-old coach are still awaiting help from expert divers, as rescue efforts have been called off until Monday morning.
"Today we managed to rescue and send back four children to Chiang Rai Prachanukrua Hospital safely," the head of the rescue operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, announced Sunday at a news conference. "It’s a big success of all teams. We have thousands of people helping us with the operation."
The team has been trapped since June 23, when they set out to explore a cave located near the border with Myanmar to celebrate one of the boy's birthdays. Rising water levels then blocked them inside.
The much-anticipated rescue mission is considered very dangerous, and Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakam said it could take two-to-four days depending on water and weather conditions, per the Associated Press. The cave's narrow and submerged passageways claimed the life of a former navy diver on Friday.