Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

8 boys freed from Thai cave; rescuers working to save 5 others

Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation
Ellis Copeland | 11 July, 2018, 10:30

A Reuters witness near the Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai saw medical personnel carrying four people out of the cave to waiting ambulances over the course of the day.

"The four children are well at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital".

The disappearance of the boys and their novice monk turned soccer coach from this small town on the Thailand-Myanmar border - remarkably found alive nine days after they went missing June 23 - launched an extraordinary saga of worldwide cooperation and ingenuity, as experts from many fields planned how to maneuver all 13 out alive. Having completed this section, the boys are then handed over to separate, specialist rescue teams, who help assist them through the remainder of the cave, much of which they can wade through.

The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday were happy and in good health, authorities said.

The first boy of the day, and fifth overall, was removed from the cave at 5 p.m., a source close to the operation told ABC News. It takes several hours.

The rescued boys are being kept in sterilized isolation units at a nearby hospital, which prohibits physical contact, and their parents have not been told they're safe.

Eight boys are still inside the cave and along with the team coach. New oxygen tanks were placed before the second stage of the rescue effort began.

The search-and-rescue operation has riveted people both in Thailand and internationally, with journalists from across the globe traveling to this town along the border with Myanmar to report on the ordeal. Musk said his submarine has eight handles, four in the front and four in the rear, and four air tank connections.

Four boys and the coach are still trapped.

A Thai forestry official said water levels were still declining in the cave due to thousands of pumps operating inside and had not been significantly affected by the intermittent rain of the past 48 hours.

Heavy rain soaked the area overnight, increasing the risks in what has been called a "war with water and time" to save the boys.

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Officials have said storms forecast for the province had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and unsafe plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.

Officials said Monday that despite rain Monday morning, the weather was holding out so far.

The daring and risky bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - was suspended by the mission chief late on Sunday to replenish oxygen supplies and make new preparations, which he said would take at least 10 hours. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk was the latest to pitch in.

Musk posted videos on Twitter of the aluminum sub being tested at a swimming pool Sunday midafternoon California time.

He tweeted Sunday evening the group was en route to Thailand with the device and would reach the destination in about 17 hours.

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the first four boys freed.

The eighth boy has now emerged from the cave where a soccer team and their coach have been trapped in Thailand.

On Sunday, four of the boys were extracted in a hard mission involving 13 foreign divers and five members of Thailand's navy SEAL unit.

Narongsak defended the lack of public disclosure of the names of the boys who had already been guided to safety, saying it "will create ill feeling" if their names are released while others languish inside the cave.

Rescuers have been navigating a unsafe and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground.

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