The rescue operation to extract 12 Thailand footballers and their coach trapped in Tham Luang caves for over two weeks was set to begin on Sunday as the rescuers reached the final stage of preparations.
"Today is D-day. The boys are ready to face any challenges. We are at peak readiness,” rescue chief Narongsak Osotthanakorn told reporters gathered outside the entrance of the cave.
Narongsak said that it was the best time to start the final operation as the boys and their coach were physically and mentally fit for the rescue mission and also the water level at many spots in the cave was currently low.
The rescue operation chief said that the decision to evacuate the boys was made after due consultations with the Thai Navy Seal members, medical staff and families of the trapped persons.
According to Narongsak, the first rescued person was expected to be evacuated by 9 pm on Sunday.
Reports from several Thailand media outlets said that the football team has been divided in four groups. While one group has four members, the rest three have three members in each group.
Fourteen-year-old Adul "Dul" Sam-on would be the first of the thirteen trapped persons to be brought out of the cave. Their coach, Ekkapol Chantawong will be the last person to be evacuated.
After days of brainstorming every possible method to bring the boys out, the preparations suggested that the officials had abandoned all extraction plans and the boys will have to swim and dive the approximately 5km stretch inside the cave.