MAE SAI, Thailand (CBSNewYork) — The remaining members of a youth soccer team have been pulled from a flooded cave in Thailand where they have been trapped for more than two weeks.
Officials confirmed to CBS News that all 12 players and their coach were safe following the third phase of the rescue operation.
Thailand’s Navy SEALs said the last four boys and the coach were rescued Tuesday. Four boys were previously rescued Sunday and another four were brought to the surface on Monday.
The 12th boy was brought out of the cave on a stretcher, CBS News reported. The 25-year-old coach was the last member of the team out of the cave.
On Twitter Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said: “On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand. Such a beautiful moment – all freed, great job!”
Three Thai Navy SEALS and a doctor who had been watching over them since the team was found also emerged safely from the cave.
The challenging mission involved each of the boys wearing a full dive mask as a diver leads the way carrying their oxygen tank while being guided by a rope. A second diver follows behind.
Water drained from the cave helped reduce the fast-moving current and allowed the boys to walk in some parts that were previously flooded.
From start to finish, the journey is two-and-a-half miles. One of the most dangerous parts of the trek was a pinch point that is just 15 inches across where the boys had to separate from the divers to fit through.
Some of the divers, whose job was to place oxygen tanks along the treacherous underwater route, said visibility was near zero and the path was extremely risky.
“We could see only our hands a short distance. The stones are razor-sharp, which are dangerous for our diving,” one diver said. “Thirdly, the passage is very narrow. This is the hardest mission we’ve ever done.”
The rescued boys were rushed by ambulances and helicopter to a hospital 60 miles away from the cave. Doctors are keeping them in isolation to monitor for infection.
It took 11 hours to get the first group of four out Sunday. The second group made it through in about nine hours. The third phase Tuesday took about eight hours.
The boys are expected to stay in the hospital for seven days. Some are asking for favorite foods like nutella, and want to go to the World Cup. Their doctor said perhaps this year it’s best to watch it on TV.