Rescue operation suspended after 8th boy freed from Thai cave

Marsha Scott
July 11, 2018

Eight boys have now been extracted. Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the team's coach, as of Monday morning.

But he added rescuers may need more than 20 hours, to replan and replenish oxygen supplies, to be ready to mount the next mission.

Thailand's Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said the divers who took part in Sunday's rescue were also conducting the current operation.

"The divers that were assembled from many countries are proud to have conducted this operation until its success", Narongsak said.

But he could not confirm if all five would come out today.

The rescue team is scrambling to extract all of those stranded before fresh rains complicate the task or cut off access by increasing flooding in the cave. "We can't visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours", Somboon told Reuters. "Hooyah", the Thai Navy SEALS wrote on their Facebook page Monday, referring to the boys' soccer team, the Wild Boars.

The 12 young footballers and their coach became trapped in the Thiam Luang cave two weeks ago due to rising water after they entered the cave made it impossible for them to escape.

Four ambulances were seen leaving the Thai cave site Monday. A retired Thai Navy SEAL assisting with the operation died Friday after running out of oxygen, underlining the danger of the rescue.

The submarine is small and light enough to be carried by two divers, and can navigate through the narrow submerged areas in the cave, which is said to be the biggest challenge in rescuing the children trapped in the cave.

The boys rescued from the Tham Luang caves in Thailand are "happy and well" according to the head of the rescue mission, Narongsak Osotthanakorn. A search led by Thai navy SEALs and joined by volunteer divers from around the world was fruitless until a pair of British divers came up on the hungry but apparently healthy team.

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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.

The four boys removed Sunday were hospitalized in stable condition at Prachanukroh Hospital, about 35 miles from the cave.

Each had to wear an oxygen mask to enable normal breathing, authorities said.

Around 5 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET), six hours after the second phase of the operation began, the first ambulance left the cave area and headed toward a helicopter, which landed at a nearby hospital. There was no word on the condition of the fifth boy brought out earlier on Monday.

Officials last week said they would bring the fittest people in the group out first, but Narongsak later said that whoever was ready first would be escorted out.

One boy asked for a fried chicken dinner.

US Embassy Bangkok spokesman Steve Castonguay said: "The US will remain here to continue to support this operation until all the soccer players and their coach have been rescued".

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.

"The four children are fine".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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