TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Two more were still inside the cave but authorities were confident of getting them out by Tuesday evening through a claustrophobic network of tunnels that in some places were completely filled with water.
"(They) will be extracted today," rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters on Tuesday morning.
The hoped-for final chapter in an ordeal that has gripped the world came after elite foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALs escorted eight members of the "Wild Boars" football team out of the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand on Sunday and Monday.
Then on Tuesday afternoon multiple sources involved in the operation said three more had been escorted out. However it was not clear if the 25-year-old coach was among them or if he remained inside.
The 12 boys, aged from 11 to 16, and their coach, ventured into the cave on June 23 after football practice and got caught deep inside when heavy rains caused flooding that trapped them on a muddy ledge.
They spent nine harrowing days trapped in darkness until two British divers found them.
Authorities then struggled to devise a safe plan to get them out, mulling ideas such as drilling holes into the mountain or waiting months until monsoon rains ended and they could walk out.