Eight boys rescued from flooded Thai caves, now up to 'rain god'

SBS News

SBS News

Sunday night, teams of divers brought out four of the trapped boys to waiting ambulances.

The head of the Thai rescue operation told reporters that the mission Monday went smoothly, and has asked for three more days to rescue the remaining four boys and their coach from the Tham Luang caves. The rescued boys had to travel almost two and a half miles from inside the cave to reach the outside, a path that is partially submerged in fast-flowing freezing water and with peaks and crevices extremely hard to fit through.

The aide, Sitthichai Klangpattana, didn't comment on the boys' health or say how well the operation has gone.

Officials have said storms forecast for Chiang Rai province in Thailand's far north 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.

Narongsak also said Monday that the condition of the five remaining people in the cave is "still good".

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said in a TV interview on Monday morning she believed the boys would be brought out in groups of four.

Alluding to that worry, the regional army commander offered his thanks Monday to the rain god Phra Pirun, imploring him to "keep showing us mercy".

A Thai well-wisher pins a poster to pray for the trapped boys and their coach on a tribute board.

The mission, which started on Sunday, is a race against the clock with heavy rain expected this week which would again flood the labyrinthine tunnels with fast-flowing, rising water.

The four boys guided from the cave Sunday in an urgent and risky operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said.




He said the last five survivors in the cave were in good health, adding that those who are now at the hospital could not eat fried rice yet because they will have to adjust themselves with the eating. They have not been reunited with their families yet due to infection concerns.

And, Foisey said, the boys do have one thing going for them: "I'm sure these kids were very determined to get home".

They were all carried out on stretchers and into ambulances before being airlifted to the Chiang Rai Pranukroh Hospital, where the four players rescued on Sunday are recovering.

An official briefed on the rescue operation said Monday the rescued kids haven't yet been served the chicken dish but are starting instead with lighter blander food such as diluted porridge. The device could be used to rescue one boy at a time as it has space to fit in one person with his arms crossed, he said.

They are part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said the second phase began at 11 a.m. and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours".

During this process, rescuers need to hold the boys' oxygen tanks in front of them and swim pencil-like through submerged holes.

Cave rescue experts have said they consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

That sense of accomplishment was also reflected in the message posted Monday night on the Thai Navy SEALS's Facebook page announcing the latest rescues.

Thai officials had said Sunday that they were temporarily suspending the rescue effort so they could replenish oxygen supplies and other gear.

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