Twelve members of a boys' soccer team in Thailand and their coach have been found alive nine days after the group was trapped in a cave in the northern part of the country.
The governor of Chiang Rai province, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said that all 13 were found safe at about 10:30 p.m. local time Monday, July 2. The team was found about 1,300 feet away from an elevated area inside the sprawling cave, Thai News Agency reported. But the days-long rescue operation isn't over, as rescuers still need to figure out how to get the team out of the cave.
The next step would be to check on the team members' health condition, Narongsak told reporters.
"We will take care of them until they can move," Narongsak told reporters, who applauded at the news, according to AFP. "We will bring food to them and a doctor who can dive. I'm not sure they can eat as they have not eaten for a while."
ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman tweeted that one of the rescuers told him the boys and their coach are weak but not in critical condition. A doctor will spend the night with the group and determine when they're strong enough to be taken out.
"They're 2 miles in, it's an arduous trip. And the rain is coming. But they're alive," Longman said.
The boys, ages 11 to 16, and their coach, 25, disappeared June 23 after entering the flooded Tham Luang Nang Non cave in a national park in Chiang Rai.
Dozens of local and foreign rescuers, including a team of Navy divers and several cave experts, had spent the past few days helping to locate the team, but rising and muddy waters showing no signs of receding have stymied efforts and blocked access to chambers of the cave. According to the AP, rescuers drilled a hole into the side of the cave to try to drain the water, while others attempted to find alternative routes inside.
"There's not much we can do right now. We have to wait for the water level to decline. [Divers] can't do anything right now," Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said on Thursday, the AP reported.
On Monday, however, a brief break in the weather allowed rescuers to go further into the cave and keep water levels from rising, according to AFP. They had hoped to find the group, known as the Wild Boar soccer team, on an elevated ledge called Pattaya beach, but that area has also been submerged. The group was found roughly 1,000 feet away, Narongsak told reporters.
The cave system is at least four miles long and waters can reach 16 feet during the rainy season, from June through October, Police Col. Kam Saardluan told the AP.
Astonishing video shows Thai soccer team found alive after going missing in a cave for ten days.
"It's okay, many people are coming...You are very strong. Very strong." https://t.co/RrgsWwpBgL pic.twitter.com/ggFASYeBsl
- ABC News (@ABC) July 2, 2018
Story by Kristine Phillips. Phillips is a member of The Washington Post's general assignment team. She previously covered criminal justice, courts and legal affairs at the Indianapolis Star.
The Washington Post's Fred Barbash contributed to this article.