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Four Thai boys rescued as divers brace for next phase
10 July 2018, 01:32 | Glen Norman
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Four children who were rescued have been safely delivered by helicopter to the hospital in Chiang Rai, head of the rescue operations said.
Officials said at a news conference that the parents of the rescued boys, whose names have not been released, have not yet been allowed to have physical contact with them, pending more extensive examination of their physical condition.
Authorities had been rushing to extract the boys and their coach from the cave as monsoon rains bore down overnight on Sunday.
The hazardous bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - started unexpectedly on Sunday when the rescue team said conditions were ideal for the evacuation. He is still believed to be one of the nine inside the cave. The hands form a circle, symbolizing the bond and the joint effort by several global teams to rescue the boys.
The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday in an urgent and unsafe operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said.
In an indication of how unsafe the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday.
The extraction of the four on Monday followed a similar pattern to the previous day, with the youngsters emerging in quick succession just before nightfall after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles).
Though it rained again Sunday, it did not affect the water levels in the cave, said Narongsak Osatanakorn, the leader of the command center in charge of the rescue operation.
Extracting everyone could take up to four days, but the initial success has raised hopes that could be done.
It was reported that heavy rain was falling at the media centre, around a mile from the cave entrance, which could scupper plans to get the boys out today.
Rescuers had planned to take a 10- to 20-hour pause in the rescue efforts to replenish the cave with oxygen and give the team of 18 divers leading the boys on the hard journey a chance to rest.
Rescuing the remaining boys and coach could take two to four days, and depended on the weather, an army commander involved in the mission said. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out while making the dive Friday and died. Officials said Monday that the first four rescued boys were all "good and happy" after spending 16 days trapped inside the cave but that they were complaining of being "hungry". After the location of the young soccer team and their coach was discovered earlier this month, Musk shared ideas for the rescue mission on Twitter, later revealing that his engineers would assist with the rescue.
Narongsak, who is heading the operation, said earlier Sunday that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue, and two divers were to accompany each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since Monday, when the first searchers found them.
The eight rescued boys were recuperating in a hospital from their ordeal huddled together on a tiny patch of higher ground where they had sought refuge after a rainstorm flooded the massive Tham Luan Nang Non cave complex as they were exploring it after soccer practice on June 23.
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Divers have gone in for the second rescue attempt, Thai officials said.
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