Expert divers have 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, as a unsafe and complicated operation unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.
After meeting with Thai SEAL officials and the other rescue teams involved in the operation, he said that this incident was a lesson to be learned and should never happen again in Thailand.
An aide to the Thai Navy SEAL commander says four boys were brought out of the flooded cave in northern Thailand on Monday and the ongoing rescue operation is over for the day.
Four boys were rescued on Monday evening following the four who were bought safely out of the cave on Sunday.
Rescuers have been navigating a risky and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground.
A diving crew is now making the treacherous journey to save the group of 13 boys aged 11-16 and their football coach who are trapped by flooded tunnels. Divers held the first four boys close to bring them out, and each had to wear an oxygen mask to enable normal breathing, authorities said.
Health experts with the rescued boys will be checking oxygen, malnutrition, dehydration, post-traumatic stress and other psychological effects, CNN reports.
Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said all four boys rescued Monday are "safe and conscious" and in a hospital.
Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osotthanakorn on Monday said the operation on the second day started at 11am.
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A total of eight boys were removed from the cave on Sunday and Monday.
In an indication of how unsafe the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday.
The world has been hooked on the fate of the group of Thai boys trapped in a cave and the heroic attempts to rescue them. The perilous rescues have involved two divers accompanying each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since July 2, when searchers found them. "We will have to do the next mission as successfully as the one we did today".
Drilling a hole into the mountainside to lift them to safety - as 33 Chileans were rescued from a collapsed mine in 2010 - was dismissed because the boys' location couldn't be pinpointed accurately, and it wasn't clear how drilling could alter the mountain's geology.
After the ambulance was seen leaving the complex at around 5 p.M. Monday, a helicopter took off. Authorities have said helicopters were ready to take cave evacuees to a hospital.
The "Wild Boars" football team and their coach got trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after football practice and the tunnels became flooded.
The rain raises concerns that rising floodwaters in the cave complex will complicate rescue efforts and affect the evacuation.
The boys will have to navigate through submerged passageways in some places no more than two feet (0.6 metre) wide.
Among those are USA 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.