Authorities in northern Chiang Rai province began the risky mission to bring out the 12 boys and their coach earlier on Sunday. The team's coach also offered his "apologies" to the parents in a separate letter.
It will take at least 11 hours for the first person to be rescued.
"Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the rescue, said Sunday morning was the most opportune time to launch the operation, citing the ideal weather, water and the kids' readiness, physical and mental".
Rescue officials prepare to receive the boys and their coach as evacuation begins at Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, on Sunday. The boys were rescued wearing full face masks.
Thirteen medical teams stand ready outside the cave, each with its own helicopter and ambulance, to assist each boy and their coach.
In all, 13 foreign divers and five Thai SEALS are involved in the rescue, which requires a treacherous, 2.4-mile journey through the cave complex. Over the past several days divers have been teaching the boys how to dive, and some are learning the basics of swimming for the very first time.
Expert divers worked together to rescue guide the boys out through the narrow passageways of the cave. The boys had moved 400 meters further in as the ledge had become covered by water. Earlier efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by heavy downpours.
The Thai governor in charge of rescuing 12 boys and their soccer coach says the co-operating weather and falling water levels over the past few days have created conditions for an attempted extraction of the group. He said the operation started at 10 a.m. local time, that it would take about 11 hours to remove the first boy from the cave and that two divers would accompany each boy.
Fifty foreign divers and 40 Thai divers are now involved in the rescue operation, The Guardian reported, with teams from Australia, the US, UK, and China aiding in efforts.
Authorities in Chiang Rai began the unsafe mission to rescue the 12 boys - aged 11 to 16 - and their 25-year-old coach earlier on Sunday.
Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
The ordeal has riveted Thailand and captured the world's attention.
According to BBC News, the team began the operation ahead of schedule thanks to a pause in the frequent rains that come with the country's monsoon season.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the U.S. government is working closely with Thai officials to get the children to safety. Very courageous and talented people!,' the president wrote on Twitter Sunday morning.
All media and non-emergency personnel have been cleared from the site, so all updates will be reported by local authorities from this point on.
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