Four more boys have been airlifted to a Chiang Rai hospital after they were safely brought out of the Tham Luang cave by the same team of elite divers who managed to rescue the first four boys on Sunday, according to the Thai Navy Seals.
He was taken by helicopter and ambulance to the same hospital in Chiang Rai where the first four boys were rescued on Sunday.
One volunteer, former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan, died Friday while placing spare air tanks along the escape route. Eight people remain trapped in the flooded cave system. "I'm hoping for good news today", he said. "They are now at the field hospital near the cave", Tossathep Boonthong, chief of the health department in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, told Reuters. "And we will do it faster because we are afraid of the rain". They wore full-faced masks "while hanging on to the bodies of rescue divers", Channel News Asia reported. Authorities say they want to get them out now, given the looming threat of more rain and floods.
Unconfirmed reports that the boys' coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, was among the first four to be evacuated because of the poor state of his health, were dismissed on Monday.
The boys have been trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave since June 23 when they and their coach entered and were then cut off by flash flooding.
The Thai Navy Seal unit celebrated the successful rescue of members of the Wild Boars football team, writing on their official Facebook page: "2 days, 8 Wild Boars". Four more of the trapped soccer team were rescued this morning, bringing the total to eight.
In the last 18 days, what began as a local search for the missing 13 turned into a complex rescue operation, involving hundreds of experts who flew in from around the world to help.
Narongsak said Monday's rescues involving 18 divers and a support team of 100 had taken nine hours, two fewer than the rescues Sunday.
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But after the first four emerged late on Sunday afternoon, hopes began to rise of a fairytale ending to the ordeal. "We have to quarantine them for a little while due to fear of infection".
The risky bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - resumed after a break on Sunday night to replenish oxygen supplies and make other preparations deep inside the cave complex in northern Thailand's Chiang Rai province.
The only way to bring the boys and their coach out of the cave is by navigating dark and tight passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents, as well as oxygen-depleted air.
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.
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.
Divers involved in the rescue described treacherous conditions, with fast-moving shallow water passing through very narrow passages.
Among those are U.S. military partners, British cave diving experts - including the two men who first located the boys a week ago - and rescue workers from Australia, China and other countries. When it became clear the boys were likely going to have to dive out, experts were sent in to teach them how to use scuba gear.