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Twelve Boys And Footy Coach Found Alive In Thailand

Twelve boys and their football coach who had been missing for more than a week in a cave in northern Thailand have been found alive, local officials have said.

The boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach disappeared when flooding trapped them after they entered Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23.

Video released by the Thai navy late on Monday showed the boys in their football kits sitting on a dry area inside the cave above the water as a spotlight, apparently from a rescuer, illuminated their faces.

In the five-minute navy video, the boys are quiet as they sit down with their legs bent in front of them. They are clad in the kits they apparently were wearing on the morning they disappeared in the cave.

"You are very strong," one of the rescuers says to them in English.

One of them asks what day it is, and the rescuer responds, "Monday. Monday. You have been here 10 days".

Rescuers, including Australian Federal Police officers with cave diving experience, and Thai Navy Seals have been involved with the search over the last few days.

Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said on Monday that the 13 were being rescued but warned they were not out of danger yet.

"We found them safe. But the operation isn't over," he said.

"When the medics have evaluated the kids to see if their health is in good condition, we will care for them until they have enough strength to move by themselves, and then we will evaluate the situation on bringing them out again later."

Family members of the missing hugged each other as they cheered the news.

Rescue divers had spent much of Monday making preparations for a final push to locate the group.

In addition to the divers, teams have been working to pump out water as well as divert groundwater. Other efforts have focused on finding shafts on the mountainside that might serve as a back door to the blocked-off areas.

Teams have also been combing the mountainside looking for fissure that might lead to shafts.

Narongsak said they located the missing boys about 300-400m past a section of the cave that was on higher ground and was thought to be where the team members and their coach may have taken shelter.

The Australian team had joined forces with 11 Chinese rescue experts, up to 32 US forces personnel, three British divers and a British cave expert as well as rescue teams from Myanmar and Laos.

And following the boys' discovery, Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha thanked the international experts who had helped in the search.

His office said the PM "wishes to thank the tremendous efforts of all international units that have come to assist the Thai authorities in rescuing the youth football team that was stuck in the caves in Chiang Rai.

The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people are grateful for this support and co-operation, and we all wish the team a safe and speedy recovery".

AAP

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