The first four boys from the group of 13 are reportedly being guided out of the cave by Thai Navy SEALS as the rescue operation gets underway.
Steady rain overnight appears to have forced the hand of rescuers and brought forward an evacuation at Tham luang cave.
It is rumored the rescue operation began at midnight local time and the first group of children are already beyond the base camp set up by Thai authorities within the cave system. The journey is expected to take around nine hours.
18 divers have been sent into the caves to retrieve the 12 boys and their football coach. The 13 people inside the cave have been informed and are ready and their families have been informed.
At current water levels, it would appear that the 12 boys and their soccer coach, who are poor swimmers, would only need to be fully submerged for a short distance — after which a diving escort could swim them with their heads above water most of the way.
Medical teams have been rehearsing for three days and are ready to treat the group when they emerge.