Thai cave operations halted for the day, 4 more boys rescued
An ambulance exits from the Tham Luang cave area as operations continue at the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park.
Chiang Rai (Thailand) - Four boys had been rescued on the first day. After two days of rescue efforts, four more boys and the coach remain inside the caves.
Rescue workers in Thailand brought out on Monday four more people from a flooded cave where 12 boys and their football coach were trapped for more than two weeks, taking the total number of rescued children to eight.
A Reuters witness near the Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai saw medical personnel carrying two people out of the cave to waiting ambulances on Monday evening, and another two ambulances at a later stage.
The rescue operation was launched on Sunday and four boys were brought out that day. They and were in good condition in hospital, officials said.
The 'Wild Boars' soccer team and their coach got trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
The Latest on the rescue of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand (UAE time):
The eighth boy has been brought out of the caves. Operations have been halted for the day.
Sixth and seventh person carried on stretchers from Thai cave, reports Reuters.
An ambulance with flashing lights has left a cave complex in northern Thailand hours after the start of the second phase of an operation to rescue a youth soccer team trapped inside the flooded cave for more than two weeks.
After the ambulance was seen leaving the complex at around 5pm Monday, a helicopter took off. Authorities have said helicopters were ready to take cave evacuees to a hospital. It was unclear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter.
A fifth boy has been rescued from the cave - the first after operations resumed on Sunday, says CNN.
Rescue workers in Thailand were seen carrying a person on a stretcher away from a cave complex and into a waiting ambulance on Monday, a Reuters witness said.
A mission to rescue a group of boys and their soccer coach trapped in the flooded cave since June 23 resumed hours earlier.
The first four boys, from the group of 13, including the coach, were rescued on Sunday.
Four members of a Thai youth football team guided out of a flooded cave complex will not be allowed physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection has gone, the chief of the rescue bid said Monday.
"They (the four) will be kept away from their parents for a while because we are concerned about infections," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding doctors will decide on family visits "at a distance or through glass."
The chief of an international mission to rescue nine members of a Thai football team still stuck inside a flooded cave on Monday said he was expecting "good news" shortly.
"All the equipment is ready. Oxygen bottles are ready... in next few hours we will have good news," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, after announcing the second phase of the rescue bid had begun.
Thai authorities say they have resumed operations to rescue members of a boys' soccer team trapped in a flooded cave after successfully getting four of the boys out Sunday.
They said the four boys already rescued are hungry but in good health in a hospital.
The second operation started at 11 a.m. local time Monday. It takes several hours.
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.
Eight boys are still inside the cave and along with the team coach. The operation to get them out was supposed to resume only after new oxygen tanks could be placed along their route of escape, which is partially underwater.
Australia's foreign minister says 19 Australian personnel are involved in the Thailand cave rescue operation including a doctor who's played an essential part in assessing which boys can leave and in what order.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Australia that anesthetist and experienced cave diver Richard Harris is working with the Thai medical team inside the cave "to make the decisions about the order in which the boys were to be extracted."
Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they were trapped with their soccer coach for more than two weeks. Crews will have to replenish air tanks along the route before rescuing the others.
Thailand's interior minister says the same divers who took part in Sunday's rescue of four boys trapped in a flooded cave will also conduct the next operation as they know the cave conditions and what to do.
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.
Anupong said divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach have been trapped since June 23. He said that process can take several hours.
He said the boys rescued Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.
Rescuers at a Thai cave where eight boys and their soccer coach remain trapped have awoken to cloudy skies, after a night in which heavy monsoon rains lashed the mountainous region for several hours.
It was not immediately clear Monday how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave. Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and dangerous plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.
Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 per cent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.
Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities said the next phase could begin any time within a 10-hour window that began about 4am Monday.
Elon Musk's Space X rocket company is testing a "kid-sized submarine" that could be sent to help boys trapped in a flooded Thailand cave.
Musk posted videos on Twitter of the aluminum sub being tested at a swimming pool Sunday midafternoon California time. If the tests are successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand.
Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities are now working to replenish air tanks along the cave's treacherous exit route. They say rescuing the eight remaining boys and their soccer coach could take up to four days.
A spokesman for Musk's Boring Co. tunneling unit, which has four engineers at the cave, has said Thai officials requested the device, which could potentially help the children through narrow, flooded cave passageways.
Officials say it could take up to four days to complete the rescue of eight boys and their soccer coach from inside a northern Thailand cave.
Authorities temporarily stopped their efforts Monday to replenish air tanks along the cave's treacherous exit route.
Expert divers on Sunday managed to get four of the 12 boys to safety. They were quickly transported to a hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, the provincial capital.
The names of the rescued boys were not released.
Rescuers have been navigating a dangerous and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground.
The entire group had been trapped for more than two weeks.
Looming rain was one of the main enemies of the operation, threatening to flood the cave complex in mountainous northern Thailand, although a bewildering array of other dangers could also doom their safe return.
Thailand has waited anxiously for news of the safe return of the boys and their 25-year-old coach since they became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23, in a saga that has dominated global headlines.
They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank.
On Sunday four members of the "Wild Boar" team were successfully brought out from the cave, after authorities decided they had to rush ahead with a rescue operation to beat monsoon rains.
They were guided by expert divers who plotted the hours-long escape through more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) of twisting passageways and flooded chambers.
Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn on Sunday said four of the team - affectionately dubbed by Thai social media Wild Boars 1,2,3,4 - were "safe" but released few details about their condition or identities.
He said the extraction effort would likely resume early Monday.
"We've been working continuously overnight," a Chiang Rai government source told AFP on Monday morning, requesting anonymity, and confirming that there had only been a pause of the actual extraction operations.
With authorities releasing few details of the rescue bid, parents continued their agonising wait to be reunited with their sons.
"I am still waiting here at the cave, keeping my fingers crossed to see whether my son will be one of those to come out today," Akkarat Wongsukjan, a mother of Pheerapat - known by his nickname "Night" - told AFP.
"We heard four boys are out but we do not know who they are. Many parents are still here waiting. None of us has been informed of anything."
But she added she was "happy" at the prospect of seeing her son again.
To get the boys out, divers will be forced by the narrow passages to accompany them one at a time.
None of the boys have scuba diving experience and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness.
The lack of space has added complexity to storing enough canisters of oxygen along the route out.
The death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey even for professionals.
Ambulances arrived early Monday at the cave entrance.
The hordes of global and local media have been kept back from the cave and the hospital in Chiang Rai where the boys are believed to be under observation.
Night's relatives have said they believe the group went to the cave to celebrate his 16th birthday after a Saturday football practice and got caught as heavy rains caused the water inside the cave to suddenly rise.
A frantic rescue mission was hatched in the week since they were found.
Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave.
But the rescue was prodded into action by the threat of a fresh round of rains and falling oxygen levels in the cave.