Monday, 23 July, 2018

Rescuers begin missions to bring out last group from flooded Thai cave

Thailand Cave Search Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn
Ellis Copeland | 10 July, 2018, 14:32

MAE SAI, Thailand-Thai authorities hope to evacuate four remaining boys and their soccer coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave on Tuesday, ending a more than two-week ordeal that began when members of the team were stranded by flash floods deep inside one of the country's biggest cave systems.

The remaining four boys and their coach will be brought out by the end of Tuesday, according to Mr Osottanakorn.

"I am very happy about those who already made it out and I think everyone will be out today", said Waranchit Karnkaew, 14, who also said the football-mad boys had been closely following games at the World Cup in Russian Federation before they were trapped. "Four plus one coach, so it's five".

Doctors attending to the eight boys who have been rescued from the cave in two groups of four on Sunday and Monday say they are generally in good health - an incredible result for the boys who have spent nine days incommunicado, without food, until they were found, and then waited days more before embarking on an hours-long dive that even the most skilled cave divers have described as among the most unsafe they have attempted. Anyone not essential to the mission had been ordered out of the cave, he added.

Writing in elegant Thai script, the boys urged their parents not to worry, adding that they hoped they wouldn't get too much homework after being rescued and couldn't wait to eat their favorite foods again.

But although the eight were rescued, there were concerns they may have contracted an illness while in the cave.

Still, health officials were wary of possible infections "because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave".

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It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Jedsada told a news conference. "From what I've seen in the clip, they did look skinny", he said. "We are just praying for them to have a safe return". They also asked for - and were given - a small amount of chocolate.

The second group freed on Monday were aged 12 to 14.

"Doctors have treated the boys and now all of them are okay and cheerful". The second group is still eating "medical food". Doctors were being cautious because of the infection risk and were isolating the boys in the hospital. "And we have more expertise than yesterday", he said. Another five still await rescue, including the team's 25-year-old coach.

Technology billionaire Elon Musk went into the cave on Monday and left the rescue team with a "kid-sized" submarine his company SpaceX had built, Thailand's interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said.

"If the rain god helps us, then we may be able to work fast", the head of the rescue mission, Narongsak told reporters.

Osatanakorn announced the start of the latest rescue mission to applause and cheers in the local government courtyard that has become a centre for Thai volunteers and the world's media. Last week, a former Thai navy diver died while preparing for the operation.

In a post on their Facebook page, the Royal Thai Navy Seals said: "Today is 10 July 2018". "We will celebrate together finally".

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