Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Mission Finally Under Way to Rescue Soccer Team & Coach from Cave; First 4 Boys Rescued from Cave Rushed to Hospital; Rescue Physically, Emotionally Exhausting for All Involved; Layout of Cave Makes Rescue Difficult; Thai Navy Seals Must Consider Psychology, Typography, Oxygen Amounts, Water Currents in Rescue. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 8, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:29] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, here we go. I'm Joe Johns. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

We start with the breaking news, of course, that dangerous rescue mission finally under way in Thailand to save a youth soccer team and their coach. So far, rescue teams successfully evacuated four boys from the cave. Really a system of caves and tunnels. The remaining eight boys and their coach spending another night in the depths of that dark cave, where they have been trapped for more than two weeks. It's a race against the clock. Oxygen levels are depleting rapidly, and heavy rain is on the way, threatening to flood the cave.

Right now, rescue workers are just wrapping up a strategy meeting to plot out their next move, and divers are refueling their oxygen tanks before the next mission, as families wait anxiously for the remaining kids to start the treacherous journey to safety.

CNN has reporters on the ground. Jonathan Miller near the cave entrance, and CNN's Matt Rivers outside the hospital where the four boys are now being treated.

Let's go first to Jonathan Miller.

This was an extraordinary rescue. Some call it miraculous. And there's still a long way to go. How did they pull this off?

JONATHAN MILLER, ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, what we now know about this perilous operation was it involved 90 rescue workers in total, 13 of them divers, and an additional five Thai Navy SEALs. What we understand is that each of the four boys who came out was individually accompanied by two divers. One in front, one behind. The lead diver held the compressor tank of the boy who was leading out. And the boy was tethered to him. There was another diver behind, using that guideline. And they came out through all those flooded subterranean passageways. We know there were at least four or five sections completely flooded still, the longest of which was about 30 yards long. Now, this evening, about two or three hours ago, the governor of

Chiang Rai Province, in Thailand, Governor Narongsak, who has shouldered the huge responsibility in leading this rescue mission, had the full blessing of the parents to go ahead with this. He held a press conference tonight and gave a little more detail about what went on down there today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARONGSAK OSOTTANAKORN, GOVERNOR, CHIANG RAI PROVINCE, THAILAND (through translation): All the boys are wearing full-face masks, and the rescue divers carried them out through the passage in the cave complex.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: Well, we've got four out. There are eight more to go, plus the coach. And they have to stay down there for the next few hours, probably a couple of days, actually, because the -- there are -- there's a problem with restocking the oxygen supplies down there, the oxygen tanks, which had been prepositioned. The other problem they've got is this is being described as a war against water and a race against time. As you can probably see behind me, it is pouring, and has been for hours. And, of course, this is a huge catchment area, and as the water comes down, that cave system will fill up again. So they need to get the boys out quickly.

JOHNS: Jonathan, first question that's on my mind is, do we know how much of this journey to safety for these boys is essentially hiking and sliding through caves and narrow spaces, and how much of it actually involves essentially scuba diving?

MILLER: Yes, well, as I say, there are several passageways that are -- that remain completely submerged. So we don't know the total distance, but it would have involved several phases in which there would have been proper scuba diving. Now, the boys have been fitted with these full-face masks. They breathe through their nose. They have been trained down there by Navy SEALs over the past few days on how to do that. But there would also have been, as you say, Joe, several climbs and squeezes through incredibly narrow passageways. We know they were so narrow that the divers have to take the oxygen tanks off their backs to squeeze through. So, I mean, the boys came through it but, albeit, in very different conditions when they went down those two weeks ago.

JOHNS: Now, the other question, of course, do the other boys, the ones who are still inside, have any idea, along with the coach, that these first four have actually made it to safety?

[13:05:12] MILLER: We still don't know that. And it must be terribly worrying for them, not knowing what's going on. We remember, just three days ago, that Thai Navy SEAL, experienced diver, tragically died about a mile underground. So we know how difficult this is. The boys will be anxious about it.

But the letters they sent up yesterday to their parents urged them not to worry, showed them to be in relatively high spirits, and looking forward to birthday parties and seeing friends and eating fried chicken again. So they're all very hopeful of getting out, but we don't know whether they know yet whether their friends have made it to safety.

JOHNS: Those letters certainly did show a lot of spirit and resilience, which we all know comes with young kids.

Thanks so much for that, Jonathan Miller. We'll check back with you again.

After that intense rescue mission, the boys were rushed to a hospital about an hour's drive from the cave. Doctors and nurses there have been preparing for days in anticipation of treating the first boys.

Let's check in now with CNN's international correspondent, Matt Rivers, right outside the hospital.

Matt, what are you learning about the condition of these kids?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT; Yes, Joe, we saw four different ambulances come here as part of a couple different convoys with military and police vehicles attached. As soon as they were taken out of that cave, they were loaded into these ambulances and immediately driven here. We're about an hour south or so from the entrance to that cave. We're in a more populated area of Chiang Rai Province. And inside that hospital, that's where those boys are being treated right now.

In terms of their condition right now, Joe, we don't know exactly. That's what we're trying to figure out from officials here. But given that they were able to make that treacherous journey that Jonathan just described, you have to figure, they're at least in somewhat decent physical shape.

But that said, the preparations that were under way here at the hospital were extensive. Earlier in the day today, CNN witnessed a little bit of those preparations, watching gurneys be laid out outside of the emergency room here. And actually earlier, when I was up at the cave entrance this morning, we saw all 13 ambulances actually take their place outside of the cave entrance before we were forced to leave that area. So clearly, doctors, nurses, medical personnel, they were prepared for this possibility. And, Joe, I say possibility here, because there was nothing guaranteed about this. You know, 16 hours ago, we were saying that there might be a chance or there was a chance that none of the boys would be able to make it out safely, because that's how dangerous this rescue attempt was. So the fact that we are talking about four boys safely inside this hospital right now is really miraculous, and a testament to the skill and expertise of those divers doing their best to save this soccer team, some of whom remain trapped in that cave.

JOHNS: Any sense about how forthcoming the hospital or the doctors might be eventually? Whether anyone has discussed a news conference? You know, here in the United States, there are so many concerns about the privacy of people who are being treated for medical conditions. Any sense that we're going to hear about the shape they're in, whether dehydration, for example, was a factor, returning to solid food, things like that?

RIVERS: Yes, Joe, it's kind of two stories here. On the one hand, Thai officials have been forthcoming with information, more so over the last couple of days. We really saw a shift in their media access that they were giving us earlier today when it became apparent that this rescue operation was going to go forward. You know, earlier today, we could have walked right up to that hospital and, yet, when they were bringing the boys in, they had completely blocked that road behind us. And there's actually some green netting up outside of the emergency room right now, so no prying eyes could actually see those boys being taken into the hospital. They're being given the privacy that, frankly, they deserve.

So in terms of how forthcoming authorities will be, we are expecting them to give us information. The public, they know, is clearly interested in what's going on here. This entire country is riveted, if not the entire world is riveted by this story. Clearly, authorities are taking the necessary and deserved steps to make sure that these families as they reunite with these four boys have the privacy that they need to hopefully heal from this traumatic experience.

JOHNS: Matt Rivers, thanks so much for that. The authorities there literally and figuratively closing the net on access, and quite understandable, as well.

Thanks so much for that.

This rescue is both physically and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved.

Let's bring in Jennifer Wild, a clinical psychologist at Oxford University and expert in post traumatic stress disorder.

Let me get your thoughts on this. Can you give us some idea what it was like for those boys in the minutes and hours after a rescue like this is completed, and successfully?

[13:10:07] JENNIFER WILD, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: So the boys will be -- the four boys that are out will be feeling relieved and excited to soon be with their families. Of course, they're not going to be thinking so much now about the time in the cave, but actually just recovering from having been in there. But they will be thinking about their friends, who they have left behind, and hoping they'll be able to get out safely. Of course, they know firsthand how difficult it was to get out, and it was an extremely long mission to get them out. So in terms of their emotional resilience, what is going to be helpful is for them to focus on the fact that they are out and how to move forward and the offers that have come forward -- so they have been offered to join FIFA in Russia -- to really looking forward to that. Of course, they're going to feel anxious about the boys who have been left behind, and, you know, there's a risk of survivor's guilt if anything goes wrong with the rest of the rescue mission. It's still a very, very tender time. JOHNS: Right. And now let's try to -- if we can, a little bit inside

the heads of the boys who are still inside the cave with the coach and waiting to make that dangerous journey out. We just talked a couple minutes ago about whether they even know these four have made it to safety. So could you talk a bit about what it's like for them waiting and wondering when the next help will arrive?

WILD: So it's very anxiety-provoking in that state, waiting to be rescued and not knowing if the rescue operation is successful. So they know that the four boys have been taken out. They don't know if they have survived. They don't know the extent of treachery that lies ahead of them. They have an enormous amount of support and expertise around them, having two divers, so that's very positive and will be reassuring to them. But, of course, they have to spend another night in the cave or another several hours in the cave. And presumably, there will be a number of boys who are taken out next, and it may not be all eight all at once with the coach. It will have to be broken up, I would expect, which just increases anxiety. So it's the uncertainty. But what is going to be really helpful in that situation is to focus on the fact that they -- there's a rescue operation in place. They're likely to get out, as long as they can follow the instructions of the divers who are helping them, and as long as they can stay calm. So thee point in the mission that are most difficult are the narrowest points, and that's usually the area that is really the most frightening and increases the sense of claustrophobia. And those are the more danger points in terms of anxiety and panic. So we would want them to stay calm and just really focus on the fact -- focus on what the divers are doing and communicating with them to get them out safely.

JOHNS: So now let's talk a little bit about your expertise there, the traumatic stress piece, if you will. We do know that oftentimes in the United States, you talk about PTSD in terms of people in the battlefield or people who have experienced explosions or whatever and lived through that, loud noises. This seems to be very different, in that it's probably not associated with loud noises or violence, if you will. But PTSD, nonetheless.

WILD: Yes, so this would count as what we call a criterion-A event. There was harm to their life, and for a period of two weeks, they didn't know if there was a potential of getting out safely. So that definitely would count for a traumatic event. And there will be reminders when they're out. I mean, there are a whole host of situations that might remind them of this event. So it could be being in water, be it swimming. It could be being in an enclosed room with a door closed, that might bring back feelings of being trapped again. It could be being in darkness, nighttime. There are many, many potential different reminders. Most people who go through a trauma don't develop PTSD, so it's not a fact they're all going to develop post traumatic stress. They might not. In the first month after a trauma like this, it's very normal to have unwanted memories and feelings that are very similar to what you experience during the event. So if they felt panicked and anxious during their time in the cave, that is common in the aftermath in the first month after a trauma. Normally, this dies down over time. That's typically what we see in people. But if it doesn't die down or they continue to have flashbacks and unwanted memories and feeling scared and hyper aroused and alert, then we would want to intervene quite quickly with a short- term psychological therapy such as trauma focus, cognitive behavioral therapy.

[13:14:51] JOHNS: And potentially, the most stressful part of this is yet to come, that journey back to safety, if you will, through that labyrinth of tunnels there in Thailand.

Thanks so much for that, Jennifer Wild.

Stay with us now. When we come back, we're going to take a closer look at the layout of the cave system, and the difficult conditions rescuers are going to face in the hours ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHNS: The rescue operation for the eight other boys trapped in a cave in Thailand is currently on hold. Part of what has made this rescue operation so complicated is the layout of the caves where the boys are located.

I want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman now. He's been studying the layout -- Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe, the initial part of this went faster than officials expected there. They were able to get two boys out about 10 minutes apart, then two hours later, two more came out about 10 minutes apart. Very promising news.

But the only way this is possible is because there was a massive effort to pump out endless gallons of water down there to make some room for these boys to get out there. On top of which, even then, there were areas that remained submerged. So divers had to put these full-face masks on the boys and then, in the actual process of bringing them out, they would have one diver up front, who would have a line going back to that face mask. He was carrying the air supply. Another line securing the boy. They're on a tether all the way through the tunnel to follow things through, and then another diver coming up behind to make sure that he was secured both front and back -- Joe?

JOHNS: All right. So, Tom, I know we only have limited maps of what the situation looks like there underground. But do we have a sense of how far they actually traveled this way?

[13:19:41] FOREMAN: It's very sketchy exactly how much distance is involved. Some have it like 100 yards or so. Others, much more. In one account out there, still a quarter of the cave is filled with water. If that is true, that means whether it was one stretch or spread out, these boys had to go the length of 11 football fields under water, sometimes in very, very tight quarters, muddy, they can barely see. A very difficult thing to get done. And yet, they did manage to get, from that group over there, four of them over here. Then, as you noted earlier, they had to stop, because the oxygen has to be replenished. But this absolutely is such a race against time at this point, because

think about the rains. As we noted a short while ago, what they have been clearing, what has made part of the cave passable is getting rid of this rain, which happened from the time the boys disappeared to around the time they were found. They have had sort of a lull here. But now the rains are coming back in earnest, as you would expect in the monsoon season. And that could very quickly reduce and eliminate all the advantages that they have fought so hard to win there. That's why they're watching the clock and saying, as hard as this is, they have to press forward quickly -- Joe?

JOHNS: So many factors there, Tom Foreman. Thanks for that.

You've got psychology, typography, how much air, and even the question of current with the water. A lot of questions they have to deal with.

Four boys have now been taken out of that cave, with the help of Thai Navy SEAL divers. But they also used all of their oxygen to do it, and now must refill the tanks before they can get the remaining eight.

So joining me now is former Navy SEAL, Jake Zweig.

Jake, officials say the rescue of these boys took about 10 minutes less than they had practiced. Pretty good sign?

JAKE ZWEIG, U.S. FORMER NAVY SEAL: Yes, that means they got it pegged, exactly what they have to do to get them out. I mean, that's always a great sign, when you rehearse something and then you do it for real in exactly the same time.

JOHNS: Now, one of the things, Jake, and I think you know this, too, just as a diver, they say, on the way in, it was supposed to take about six hours. On the way out, about five hours. Part of the thing I wonder about is whether some of that has to do with current. There's been a lot of talk about strong current of the water. And presumably, if going back the current is pushing them and they can kind of drift dive, it would speed them up. But current can be a huge problem when you're dealing with darkness like this, right?

ZWEIG: Very much so. And you have to believe that the current is running out of the cave, because most caves are downhill. They're formed by water running out of the cave in the first place. So that would make sense that they're fighting time going against the current. And then once they get the boys, even though they're going a little bit slower with them, the current is helping them along. And they're on a guide rope. So, you know, it maybe one of those situations where they're really able to coast most of the way.

JOHNS: Right.

Can I show that graphic that we have Tom Foreman used just a couple minutes ago?

We have a pretty good graphic that sort of gives you an idea -- there it is. So you have -- this is buddy dive on steroids, right? You have one expert diver in front, another expert diver in the back. You have the kid in the middle. His line is attached to a tank that the diver in the front is carrying. So really, all that child has to do is swim and breathe the air, and he's got two people watching him. So presumably, that's a pretty strong formula for success, wouldn't you think?

ZWEIG: Yes. I mean, they're not even really buddy breathing. They're not sharing the same oxygen. Everybody has their own setup. So, I mean, he really is just along for the ride. Not a lot of stress on him. I don't even know how much they're going to have him swimming, to be honest with you, so that he doesn't get out ahead of one another.

JOHNS: And you know in rescue diving, they sort of teach you that -- and the expert diver has a sort of hold that he puts his arm around the back of the other diver's neck, and sort of pulls him while that other diver is kind of on his back kicking. It seems to me that if you have a child who doesn't know how to swim, that's the way you would get through the water, right? Because otherwise there's a concern about panic or what have you.

ZWEIG: Yes. I mean, I highly doubt that they're buddy breathing or they're rescue swimming a guy out of there. They've probably got one hand on his back and they've probably got a handle -- he's probably in a harness, to be honest with you. So they've got a handle on the harness and they're pushing him along. The guy in the front probably has a rope to him and he's tied off to him, too, and he's pulling. So not so much a rescue situation, more so, they're trying to guide him through the passageways, keep his head off the rocks.

JOHNS: Got it.

Now the governor says all the oxygen tanks were used to rescue those four boys. So first question is, kind of surprising, isn't it, that they didn't have any more oxygen tanks, given the size of this rescue operation? And does it really take that long to fill up the tanks?

[13:24:56] ZWEIG: So what I would say is, you know there's 1,000 people on the ground right there? And I know they only said they have about 25 divers involved. My guess is, there's probably 200 people using oxygen in those caves to facilitate movement of materials and equipment to and from the extract. They've got to go two-and-a-half miles. So if you think about it, 25 guys can't move enough equipment back and forth. So there's probably a lot more guys than just 25 breathing oxygen. And it's a long way. So they're going to take a lot of oxygen tanks. And everything they're doing is portable. So they probably had to fly in some compressors to fill the oxygen bottles. You know, it's a huge maneuver that they're trying to pull off.

JOHNS: And we have heard from our reporters on the ground about all the compression tanks going there.

There are, according to the numbers, 90 rescue workers on this right now, 13 divers, an additional five Navy SEALs. So what do you think is going through those guys' minds as they prepare for the second wave of rescues?

ZWEIG: You mean the divers or --

JOHNS: Yes, the divers.

ZWEIG: -- the kids they rescue?

JOHNS: The divers.

ZWEIG: I'm going to be honest with you, at this point, they're in the mission. So, you know, they've got laser focus. We've sent over a couple Navy SEALs. You know, they're our best and our brightest people. They're working with Thai SEALS, the cave experts from Britain. When you put all that talent together in the same room, the recipe is they're able to do the impossible consistently. And that's what this is about. We amassed a huge amount of talent there to be successful. Right now, all they're worried about is the next thing on their checklist to get this next group of people out. They're not worried about anything else. They've got laser focus on the mission right now.

JOHNS: Jake Zweig, former U.S. Navy SEAL, thanks so much for that.

The Thai government is not alone in its effort to rescue these boys and the coach. Multiple countries are lending resources and manpower to get the group out. How is the United States assisting in this rescue effort? Coming up, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:30:11] JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: And we are keeping up with the breaking news out of Thailand. We're awaiting the next phase of the rescue mission to evacuate the youth soccer team and their coach trapped in the depths of a cave for more than two weeks now. Four boys have already been safely rescued and are at the hospital. For the eight boys and the coach still in the cave, oxygen levels are falling, the rain is on its way.

CNN's Matt Rivers outside the hospital where the four boys who have now been rescued are being treated.

What can you tell us about their conditions, Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as of now, Joe, authorities are keeping word on their condition pretty close to the chest. No official announcements on how these boys are doing. You have to imagine, though, that all things considered, physically, they're not doing too terribly, given what they just went through getting out of that cave. You know, CNN has done a lot of reporting, talking about how difficult that rescue mission was, the amount of ups and downs, having to scuba dive, having to crawl through tight spaces, make certain steep climbs in the cave. And the boys had to do that, and they successfully navigated that, and are now here at the hospital. That said, you can bet that medical personnel here in the hospital

were fully prepared for anything that might come their way. If there was one silver lining here, Joe, they have had a lot of time to prepare for this moment. We know they did so. And now these boys are being treated in a special area of the hospital there just behind me. And hopefully, being reunited with their families.

JOHNS: Any idea at all how long they can expect to stay, presumably, if they're healthy?

RIVERS: I think the hope would be to get them out as soon as possible, back into their homes. If you look at the letters that the boys wrote to their families, every single one of them almost said, I'd like to go home. One of them even said I'd like my uncle to go take me to eat fried chicken. So clearly, the boys have their priorities. And I'm sure the families want to return to some sort of sense of normalcy as soon as possible.

But one thing that it's going to take time for -- think about what it's like to acclimate their vision again. They were down in the cave for two weeks. Thankfully, they came up when the sun was down here. Think about how long that might take, getting used to that. And that's just one simple thing. We don't know anything else about their conditions in terms of their physical or mental exhaustion. You know they're probably dehydrated, probably a bit malnourished. So, you know, even if they want to go home, doctors here are certainly going to keep them in the hospital until they're fit enough to return.

JOHNS: Absolutely. And also important to say, it's something like 12:32 a.m. on the ground where you are, which means, when the sun comes up, it will be the first time they have seen a whole day of daylight in quite a while. So that's interesting, as well.

Thanks so much for that, Matt Rivers.

The mission to save these boys is truly an international effort. This morning, President Trump tweeting this, "The U.S. is working very closely with the government of Thailand to help get all the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people."

CNN Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, is here now.

Ryan, so tell us a little bit about the involvement of the United States in this mission.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, U.S. officials are telling me it's very much the Thais that are in the lead., Thai Navy SEAL, Thai divers. But there's a significant U.S. military presence on the ground. There's about 30 to 40 U.S. military personnel there, most of them coming from Pacific Command, coming from Japan, bases in the region. They're there to support search-and-rescue efforts, medical efforts. And we're being told that while U.S. divers did not participate directly in the recovery of these four boys from the cave, U.S. personnel were onsite in a supporting role, prestaging equipment like tanks, as well as providing potential medical support, should anyone need it to support some of the international people that were potentially going to participate in this recovery effort. Now, we're told British divers may participate in future recovery efforts. The U.S. would support them with medical support, potentially, if anything were to happen.

JOHNS: Right. So there was earlier reporting that the United States had helped brief initially on the way in. Did that turn out to be factual?

BROWNE: That is correct. So when this plan was first developed, this kind of buddy diving system where they would swim together, experienced driving bringing the boys along with them, and when this plan was first developed, it was briefed first to senior members of the Thai military. When that was done, U.S. and British officials, divers, participated in those briefing to help with some of the technical aspects, to help provide the recommendations. As the situation became more dire, the need for urgency increased, they decided to move forward with the plan, despite some of the very real risks involved.

JOHNS: Had to be some misgivings. But given the fact the rain is coming in, you're just running out of time and you've got to do something at the end of the day.

BROWNE: Absolutely.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Ryan Browne.

As rescuers prepare for the next leg of this mission, the weather could get worse.

Let's check in with CNN Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera, who is keeping an eye on that for us -- Ivan?

[13:35:02] IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Joe. As you mentioned, not just showers. We're talking about torrential downpours, one, two, three inches an hour. We're in the middle of the monsoon season here in Thailand. We have had a bit of a lull the last few days. But now we can show, with the correspondents getting poured on, the water is continuing to pour into the cave, and it's only going to get worse the next few days.

So this is where we started back June 23. We've had significant rain since then, but then we had this nice lull there. They have been pumping out the water out of the cave. Well, why isn't it dry? Topography. We've been talking about where this is located We have mountains to the north. Even if it doesn't rain heavily right over the cave or over the rescue mission there, we have to drain that water, right? And so as the rain hits the mountainside, it's going to come down and it is going to continue to pour into the cave system, which, as we have been talking about, the caves are there because of the rain, right, over centuries. We have been pouring monsoonal rains into that cave system. The limestone very porous. And so that is why we have gotten at the trouble here last week or so.

This is what we're forecasting over the next few days. That lull is done. At this point, it's about half an inch to an inch a day. So this is not going to be good at all. That's why the urgency has come up, all of a sudden, weather wise across Chiang Rai on the northern side of Thailand. We will continue to see very heavy rainfall.

My concern all along as well has been we're in typhoon season. We're not looking at any additional moisture from any typhoons in the South China Sea, but we will continue to see heavy rain.

And by the way, this is why this whole month-plus thing was never going to work to leave the kids down there, because the rain is only going to ramp up as we head into July and August, peaking the monsoon season with incredible amounts of rain going into that cave -- Joe?

JOHNS: I know this is going to be a hard question, and you can certainly just say, hey, we don't know the answer to this. But any sense of, with that rate of rain, how long it would take for things to get absolutely critical inside the cave? Just any sense at all?

CABRERA: I think ballparking it, honestly, within the next two or three days, things are going to get very dangerous and hairy. Because we're talking about, again, not just the rain we're forecasting, but up the mountaintops, as well. And they're pumping water out, but I think it's going to be a plus-negative here where there's going to be more water going into the cave than less.

The other issue, of course, is the oxygen levels there inside the cave that continue to drop. And think about underground temperatures are also going to be an issue. So that rain water, as it comes down, pretty warm this time of year in Thailand. But as it seeps into the cave system, water temperature could be anywhere from 60 to 65, and that's when you're talking about the potential for hypothermia with the kids.

So running out of time, no question about it. So it's great that they've gotten four out. Hopefully, we'll get the rest out in the next 24 hours -- Joe?

JOHNS: And thank you for mentioning that, yet another big factor. Temperature levels of the water dropping, leading to potential hypothermia.

Thanks so much for that.

CABRERA: Sure.

JOHNS: More on the breaking news ahead. Experts from around the world are assisting in this delicate rescue effort to get the remaining boys out of that cave. More on the special equipment and methods divers are using to get the group out, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:41:01] JOHNS: Two British divers with strong backgrounds in cave rescues helped in today's miraculous rescues. Those Brits were also the first to reach the boys trapped in that cave. They found the group stranded on Tuesday, along with a group of Thai Navy SEALs. Joining me on the phone now is Bill Whitehouse. He is the vice

chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council and has been in contact with those British rescue divers at the scene.

Bill, first off, let me get your reaction to the news that at least four of the boys have been rescued from the cave.

BILL WHITEHOUSE, VICE CHAIRMAN, BRITISH CAVE RESCUE COUNCIL (via telephone): It's incredibly good news. I think not just for the ones who have been rescued today, but it shows that the methods used to rescue them work and, therefore, the same methods will hopefully be successful with their friends.

JOHNS: Bill, tell me a little bit about these British divers who are playing a role in the rescues. I understand they're civilians. I've heard one of them is an I.T.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes.

JOHNS: -- consultant from Bristol. The other, a retired firefighter from Coventry. Give me some sense of them and their experience in cave diving.

WHITEHOUSE: Right. Well, I mean, they started as cavers, not just cave dives, but cave explorers. And they started getting into cave diving because, when you encountered a flooded passage in a cave, if you can dive through that flooded passage, you might get into new passages. So that's the attraction to get to original exploration. So that's what's started them off. And that's what they have been carrying on doing over the years and building up their experience. Not only in caves in the U.K., but all over the world. They've done some pretty incredible dives.

And all of this has nothing to do with cave rescue. This has to do with cave exploration. But, of course, the skills they have picked up doing this and in pushing the extremes of underwater, underground exploration, they have built up incredible skills and amounts of experience, and in designing some of their own equipment, so that when there's an occasion for a rescue situation, they're the best guys to call in.

JOHNS: A couple of other things. Do you know if they have their own communication system? If so, tell me just a bit about it. And speaking of communications, have you communicated with them either in text or e-mail or on the phone, perhaps, since these four young kids got out?

[13:44:58] WHITEHOUSE: We are -- we are in context by text and e- mail and so forth. But we haven't been badgering them with questions and so forth. They've got a difficult and dangerous job to do. And so they are dealing with all the stress out there. They have to look after their equipment. And the one thing that keeps cave divers alive in what they do is meticulous maintenance of their equipment so that it's ready when it's needed.

JOHNS: Absolutely. WHITEHOUSE: And they also need their rest. So --

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNS: Now -- yes, rest is very important, obviously.

All right. So you spoke with these divers shortly after they found the soccer team. What did they tell you about their conditions? And also could you just give me some sense of the interaction between them and the boys when the British divers showed up?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think they shot a video. They had a GoPro-type camera with them. And as they emerged and made contact with the boys, they shot a video, which you have probably seen.

JOHNS: Yes.

WHITEHOUSE: And when they found -- there were -- when they found them there, of course, the first question they asked, how many are there of you? And, of course, there was no guarantee that all 13 of them would have been there. And when they answered 13 came, one of the divers said, you know, brilliant. That's just what we wanted to hear.

JOHNS: Got it.

WHITEHOUSE: Obviously, when the boys saw them, they were very happy. They have been underground in there for over a week. So without food. So they were, you know, clearly hungry, and all of the rest of it.

As to their physical condition, I don't personally know any more than you see on that video, that video was taken some time later. I mean, they're obviously young lads, young, fit lads, football team. But obviously hungry and worried and stressed, as we all would be in those circumstances.

JOHNS: And it's funny, too, that one of the interesting things about them being a soccer/football team is that certainly a team like that would be in good physical condition at the very beginning, which should have at least helped them in some way, those four, as they made their way out of the cave system today.

We understand the boys are wearing full-face masks and this rescue is being assisted by divers who obviously are wearing the full equipment, in some areas, though, carrying the boys out of the cave. What can you tell us about that? Because it's not your typical cave dive, by any estimation. It's more like what we call in the United States, spelunking or cave exploration, and then some cave diving.

WHITEHOUSE: It is. It's exactly that. If you like, the divers are -- the cave divers, yes, they are cavers or spelunkers. That's what they do. But they also go underwater in the caves, which not many cavers do. You know, as a proportion of the people who go caving, I would think, a guess, but no more than 5 percent also go cave diving. And these are -- and these ones represent the pinnacle of the experienced. So, you know, they are amongst a very small number, indeed. JOHNS: Yes. It certainly requires more than one skill set to get

those kids out of that cave.

Thanks so much for that, Bill Whitehouse.

Coming up, new developments on the crisis at the border. The Trump administration releases the list of those children under 5 separated from their parents. We'll talk about that, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:53:14] JOHNS: Switching gears from Thailand, we have other news today. Developments on the crisis at the border and the separation of young children from their parents. CNN has learned the Trump administration has now released the names of nearly 100 of those children under the age of 5 who have been separated from their parents trying to cross the border.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now from Brownsville, Texas, where some of the released migrant parents are desperately trying to track down their children.

Miguel, what do we know about this list? One hundred kids, is that all?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, this is the kids that are under 5 that the government says were separated by them in the last several months. This list will now be handed over to the ACLU. The ACLU will go through this list and try to figure out what it needs in order to ensure that parents can be reunited with their kids.

What the government seems to be saying, though, the Trump administration plan seems to be is that the parents and the children that they still have in custody in different facilities they intend to put together in a facility probably at Ft. Bliss or near there, together, until their asylum claim is heard.

For the parents that have either bonded out or have been deported, the administration is saying, we're not sure where they are, we're not sure we can make the judge's order by then. That's why the ACLU wants that list. That's why they want the information about where the government says these individuals are.

The Trump administration, all along, has told us they know where the parents are, where the kids are, it's very easy to find them all. But they never made any plans to -- in the event the parents got their asylum claims going and bonded out, they never made plans for how to reunite those parents and kids.

So what we're seeing is other parents or those who have kids over 5 are starting to bond out on their asylum claims, credible fear of going back to their country. So they're on that process for asylum. But they can't get their kids back because the government now says, well, we don't know that these are actually the parents of these kids, so we have to treat these kids as though they crossed the border unaccompanied, and the parents now have to apply, prove to us, the Trump administration, that you are the parent of these children. So that could take typically about a month to get that process done.

Obviously, we have one deadline coming up on Tuesday. The deadline for all kids is the 26th. At this rate, at this rate, it's never going to happen -- Joe?

[13:55:51] JOHNS: Pretty mind-boggling situation there continues.

Miguel Marquez, thanks for that.

Still ahead, back to the breaking news we're following out of Thailand. Four of the boys trapped in that cave for more than two weeks are back aboveground. They were rescued just a short time ago. Eight more boys and their coach still trapped. We'll take you there live, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:59:46] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHNS: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Joe Johns, in for Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with breaking news. The dangerous rescue mission finally under way in Thailand to save a youth soccer team and their coach. So far, rescue teams successfully evacuated four boys from the cave. Really, a system of caves and tunnels.