Elon Musk designs escape pod for soccer team trapped in Thai cave

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Eight of the 12 boys trapped with their soccer coach in a labyrinthine flooded cave complex in northern Thailand have been freed, authorities said on Monday, adding that the time for rescuing the others will depend on the weather.

Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave.

Musk posted videos on Twitter of the aluminum sub being tested at a swimming pool Sunday midafternoon California time. To get a sense of the overwhelming worldwide interest in the effort, the post attracted tens of thousands of likes and more than 10,000 comments within an hour.

The boys aged 11 to 16 are members of the Mu Pa Academy Mae Sai football club and have been trapped inside the Tham Luang cave with their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, 25, since June 23. The same process was used Sunday for at least one of the four boys rescued in the first attempt at getting the 12 boys and their coach out of the underground cave complex. A massive global search operation was launched and it took 10 days to locate the boys, who had taken shelter on a dry slope deep in the complex. The rescue operation has come to a close for the night and will resume in 10-20 hours. Officials recognize that they have to finish the recuses quickly, before seasonal monsoon rains arrive and flood the caves even further.

You can find live updates about the effort here and here. The team and coach were exploring the cave after a practice game when heavy rainfall and flooding cut off their escape route out of the cave and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.

According to a document released by the Thai authorities, two divers will accompany each of the teenagers - who are being brought out in groups. We will have to do the next mission as successfully as the one we did today.

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Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital. "Based on the complexity and difficulty of the cave environment it is unknown how long it might take and how many children would exit the cave".

Plans called for the healthiest boys to be rescued first, and Narongsak has repeatedly said the overall health of the boys was good.

A team of Thai Navy SEAL divers reached the boys yesterday, and will guide them out four at a time using a guide rope and oxygen tanks. Reports say the soccer team and their coach had visited the cave a few years ago. Narongsak said the four were then taken to a hospital.

Narongsak said Saturday that experts told him new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters (108 square feet).

The only way to extract them is by navigating 2.5 miles of dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air.

"I was thinking, if it was my kid stuck in a cave, I would be scared", said Guerrero. "To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care".