Thai cave rescue sees four more boys freed

Family members of the boys trapped in the cave are questioned by the media

Family members of the boys trapped in the cave are questioned by the media

After the ambulance was seen leaving the complex at around 5 p.m. Monday, a helicopter took off.

Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said at a press conference on Monday that the effort would involve the same divers. Sunday's mission took nine hours and plenty of energy, with each child being accompanied by two divers along the way.

It's World Cup season, but for tonight at least, all attention is on the one football team that matters - the Wild Boars - the Thai youth football team that has been trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai for more than two weeks.

After the four boys were removed from the cave, heavy rain started falling.

The disappearance of the boys and their novice monk turned soccer coach from this small town on the Thailand-Myanmar border - remarkably found alive nine days after they went missing June 23 - launched an extraordinary saga of global cooperation and ingenuity, as experts from many fields planned how to maneuver all 13 out alive.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said the second phase began at 11 a.m. and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours".

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He said the boys rescued Sunday were strong and safe but needed to undergo medical checks.

Some of the boys' parents told Reuters they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital.

Thailand's navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in far northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks. Thai Navy SEALs and global cave diving experts brought out four boys Sunday, and the operation is continuing today. The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.

During this process, rescuers need to hold the boys' oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes. Spokesmen said the goal of the visit was "to give moral support to the rescue team members". They entered the complex with their 25-year-old coach following a practice - and before a sudden heavy rainstorm hit.

The boys were flown by helicopter from the Tham Luang cave to the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital, located at the heart of Chiang Rai province, about 70km (40 miles) away.

"This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao", Narongsak said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice.

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They walked us down to the vast entrance to the cave through ankle-deep water. The families have not yet been able to interact with the boys out of fears of infection.

On Sunday, expert divers brought out the first four of the 13 who were stranded in the huge and waterlogged Tham Luang complex.

"The next step is to make sure those kids and their families are safe because living in a cave has a different environment which might contains animals that could transmit any disease", a hospital statement said.

In comments released by the government, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining nine people from the cave in the country's north. Two divers were assigned to each child to help them navigate the unsafe, narrow passageways. About two hours later, the third and fourth boys were pulled from the cave 10 minutes apart, he said.

There were several concerns that prompted authorities to move forward with the plan to dive the boys out.

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