Thailand cave rescue: Boys' football team face 4-month wait for escape

The Thailand boys' football team that went missing in an underwater cave system has been found, but now they face a new mission - escaping alive.

The 12 boys and their coach entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system, but were trapped nine days ago when the entrance to the tourist attraction flooded, leaving them stranded inside.

They were found emaciated on Tuesday (NZ time), waiting for help. Their condition was described as "too weak to move" by CNN's Mark Phillips.

Attention now shifts to getting the team out, but experts warn this could be a long and arduous task. Urgently needed food and medical supplies have been sent to the boys to help them while rescuers plan the mission.

"[We will] prepare to send additional food to be sustained for at least four months and train all 13 to dive while continuing to drain the water," Navy Captain Anand Surawan said, according to a statement from Thailand's Armed Forces.

Australian cave diving expert Peter Wolf warns it will probably take months to get them out.

"The best option is to leave them where they are and stabilise their environment to make sure the core ingredients are met. Given the environment is pretty wet, to keep them warm and dry, provide them with clean drinking water, food, and clean air," he told The Guardian.

"The length of the cave and the conditions that they're actually diving in means there are probably very few people on the planet who can actually get those provisions to them.

"But the cave divers they've got over there are some of the most experienced in the world, especially when it comes to search and rescue operations."