Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Rescuers free eighth boy from cave in Thailand

Rescuers free eighth boy from cave in Thailand

After Monday's rescues, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the eight freed boys in the hospital where they had been taken by helicopter.

Around that time, an ambulance left the cave area and headed toward a helicopter, which landed at a nearby hospital. Gen. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference, punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance. The search and rescue operation has involved dozens of global experts and rescuers, including a United States military team. "And we have more expertise than yesterday", he said.

As of Tuesday, four other team members and their 25-year-old assistant coach are still stranded in the cave. The message, like most posted by the SEALs, ended with the fighting cheer adopted from the U.S. Navy: Hooyah.

A vehicle loaded with oxygen tanks is seen near the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Authorities have repeatedly said the rain could re-flood crucial parts of the cave complex that have been drained and make the escape route much harder or even impossible to navigate.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the operation told Reuters the operation to rescue more of the nine boys and their coach was underway, although no official confirmation was issued.

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

All those rescued from the Luang Khun Nam Nang Non cave are to be flown or transported by ambulance to the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital. "From what I've seen in the clip, they did look skinny", he said.

The mission to rescue a group of boys and their soccer coach trapped in the flooded cave since June 23 resumed hours earlier on Monday.

That means the fifth boy's rescue took about just under six hours, or an hour less than the day before when the first four were brought out.

A team of 90 expert divers - 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas - has been working in the cave system.

Officials lavished praise on the Thai and global divers who executed the unsafe rescue mission, guiding boys who can barely swim and have no diving experience through a treacherous 4-kilometre-long (2 1/2-mile) escape route that twisted and turned and rose and fell inside the mountain cave complex.

Monday's mission involved 18 divers from Thailand and overseas.

"The divers that were assembled from many countries are proud to have conducted this operation until its success", Narongsak said.

Rescuers made a decision to go ahead with the operation to free them because of fears that waters would rise again.

"Everything is all good - weather, water and the boys' conditions", he said, adding, "We will speed up [the operation]".

The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, later confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight.

Narongsak said Monday's rescues involving 18 divers and a support team of 100 had taken nine hours, two fewer than the rescues Sunday.

About 0.6 miles of the journey on Sunday was believed to be underwater, requiring the boys to wear full face masks. A major concern of the rescuers is that oxygen levels in their safe space could fall dangerously low.

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