Thailand cave rescue updates: Navy Seals confirm eight boys saved; rescue operations on hold for the day

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Thailand cave rescue updates: Navy Seals confirm eight boys saved; rescue operations on hold for the day
  • 19:51 (IST)

    Rescue operations put on hold for the day

    As it looks as if the rescue operation is on hold until tomorrow, we’re going to pause the blog for now. The extraction of the four on Monday followed a similar pattern to the previous day, with the youngsters emerging in quick succession just before nightfall after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles).

  • 19:02 (IST)

    Thai Navy Seals confirm eight boys rescued


    The Thai Navy Seals in charge of the rescue operation confirmed that eight boys have now been saved. Their Facebook page does not reveal the identity of the rescued boys.

  • 18:50 (IST)

    Threat of monsoon rains not as acute as previously feared
     

    The threat of monsoon rains re-flooding the cave is not as acute as previously feared, according to Johannes Sander of the Munich base industrial weather forecasters Sander and partner, The Guardian reported.

    In an email he said rainfall today was mostly in foothills away from the cave and tomorrow will see less rain.

  • 18:40 (IST)

    Rescued boys were wearing full face masks


    CNN reported that the our boys rescued from the cave in Thailand Monday were wearing full face diving masks while they were carried out of the cave to the make shift hospital nearby, according to an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave. 

    He added that the boys were also wearing dive suits while being carried on stretchers and that their masks would be removed by medical staff at the make shift hospital.

  • 18:36 (IST)

    Focus shifts to health of boys


    As members of the boys' soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand continue being rescued Monday, the focus is shifting to the boys' long-term health and getting them proper medical aid. Health experts will be checking oxygen, malnutrition, dehydration, post-traumatic stress, and other psychological effects, CNN reported.

    "One of the major concerns is oxygen right now. They've been in an area where oxygen levels are low," Dr Darria Long Gillespie of the University of Tennessee School of Medicine told CNN.

  • 17:58 (IST)

    Two more ambulances seen leaving cave

  • 17:53 (IST)

    Eyewitness says evacuation operations completed for day


    CNN reported that operations to remove boys and their coach from the cave in northern Thailand have completed for the day, according to an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave.
     
    The total number of boys pulled from the cave Monday is four, following the four that were pulled Sunday. Four boys and their coach remain in the cave.

  • 17:41 (IST)

    Eighth boy rescued from cave
     
     
    CNN reported that an eighth boy left the cave Monday and has been sent to a medical facility on site according to an eyewitness part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave.
     

    The total number of boys pulled from the cave Monday is four, following the four that were pulled Sunday. 

    Four boys and their coach remain in the cave.

  • 17:30 (IST)

    Seventh boy pulled from cave
     
     
    CNN reported that the seventh boy has been pulled out of the cave complex in northern Thailand on Monday. That brings the number of boys stranded inside down to five. Their soccer coach remains with them.
     

    Twelve boys, all part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing with their coach more than two weeks ago.  The boys rescued on Monday were being sent to a medical facility on site, an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations told CNN.

  • 17:13 (IST)

    School to organise special classes for boys
     

    BBC reported that Mae Sai Prasitsart School, where six of the trapped boys study, will prepare special classes for when they return, school director Kanet Pongsuwan said at a news conference on Monday.

    He said the boys would be offered psychological support but would be treated “like any other students at school” to help them settle back in, Channel News Asia reported.

    “We’ll never make them feel guilty over what has happened. We’ll not blame them for it,” he said.

  • 17:03 (IST)

    Fifth rescued boy arrives at hospital
     


    CNN reported that the fifth boy rescued from the cave complex in northern Thailand has arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai.

     
    He will join his four teammates already being treated at the newly converted isolation ward at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital.

    Seven boys and their soccer coach still remain in the cave.

  • 16:52 (IST)

    Sixth boy rescued from cave

    The Guardian reported that a source inside the rescue team has confirmed that a sixth boy has been rescued from the cave.

     

  • 16:40 (IST)

    Operation pauses to resupply route
     
     
    BBC reported that reports of a fifth rescue from the cave come after a pause in the operation to place new air tanks and tighten the guide ropes along the route out.

    Four boys were brought out on Sunday in the first phase, after they navigated treacherous underwater passageways with the help of expert divers. Rescuers are now attempting to guide the eight remaining boys and their coach to safety.
     


    The rescue team, made up of divers from Thailand and around the world, is racing against time to bring the group out. Heavy rainfall is expected soon, and oxygen levels in the chamber where the team were found had begun to fall dangerously low.

  • 16:26 (IST)

    Thai public broadcaster shows boy being transferred to helicopter

    The Thai public broadcaster showed medical teams transferring the boy believed to be the fifth person rescued from the cave from an ambulance to a waiting helicopter, which then took off in the direction of Chiang Rai, where the four boys already brought out are in hospital.

  • 16:22 (IST)

    The boys and their coach:

     
    BBC reported the names, ages and nicknames of the boys who are trapped along with their assistant coach
     
    Chanin Vibulrungruang, 11 (Nickname: Titan) - started playing football aged seven
    Panumas Sangdee, 13 (Nickname: Mig), wrote to his parents: "The Navy Seals are taking good care of me"
    Duganpet Promtep, 13 (Nickname: Dom) - captain of the Wild Boars, reportedly scouted by several Thai professional clubs
    Somepong Jaiwong, 13 (nickname: Pong) - reportedly dreams of playing for the Thai national team
    Mongkol Booneiam, 13 (nickname: Mark) - described by his teacher as a "very respectful and good child"
    Nattawut Takamrong, 14 (nickname: Tern) - told his parents not to worry about him
    Ekarat Wongsukchan, 14 (nickname: Bew) - promised his mother he would help her at the shop once he was rescued
    Adul Sam-on, 14 - member of a volleyball team that came second in a North Thailand-wide tournament
    Prajak Sutham, 15 (nickname: Note) - described by family friends as a "smart, quiet guy"
    Pipat Pho, 15 (nickname: Nick) - wrote in his letter he wanted his parents to take him for barbecued food once rescued
    Pornchai Kamluang, 16 (nickname: Tee) - told his parents "don't worry, I'm very happy"
    Peerapat Sompiangjai, 17 (nickname: Night) - it was his birthday the day the boys went missing, and his parents have told him they are still waiting to hold his birthday party
    Assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong (nickname Ake), 25 - apologised in his letter to the parents, but they replied that they did not blame him

  • 16:17 (IST)

    Revealing names of rescued boys will 'create ill feeling' among those languishing inside

    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.

    He also urged the media to behave respectfully. More than 1,000 journalists from across the world have descended on northern Thailand to report the story.

  • 16:13 (IST)

    Sixth boy nearing exit of cave

    CBS news has reported that sixth boy is nearing the exit of the cave. The journey from here to the exit is dry land, the channel reported.

  • 15:25 (IST)

    Another boy rescued

    Rescuers brought at least one boy out of the cave system on Monday, according to a witness outside the cave in northern Thailand.

    He joins four other boys who were rescued on Sunday from deep inside the cave by a team of international and Thai dive experts.

    The boys, all part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing over two weeks ago. Last Monday they were discovered huddled on a narrow shelf of rock deep within the flooded cave system.

  • 14:47 (IST)

    Doctors will decide on family visits with the rescued boys

    Speaking about the rescued boys from Sunday, the rescue chief said, "They (the four) are well and happy. This morning they complained that they are hungry and they asked for fried basil with rice," he added in front of global media.

    But they will be "kept away" from physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection is over, he said, adding doctors will decide on family visits "at a distance or through glass".

  • 14:44 (IST)

    All equipments ready.. in the next few hours we'll have good news: Rescue operation chief

    "All the equipment is ready. Oxygen bottles are ready... in next few hours we will have good news," Narongsak Osottanakorn, chief of the rescue mission, told reporters, after announcing that the second phase of the rescue bid had begun.

  • 14:42 (IST)

    Dive team, led by international experts, returned to Thailand cave Monday mid-morning

    The second phase of the operation to extricate nine members of a Thai youth football team from a flooded cave began Monday and was expected to yield "good news" within hours, the chief of the rescue mission told reporters.

    The dive team, led by international experts, returned to the cave mid-morning Monday -- earlier than expected -- aiming to bring out more from the group of boys and their coach, who became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23.

  • 14:39 (IST)

    Diagram of the Tham Luang cave complex showing the dramatic operation to rescue 12 boys and their football coach

  • 14:35 (IST)

    Rescued boys from Sunday kept away from parents over risk of infection

    Four members of a Thai youth football team guided out of a flooded cave complex will not be allowed physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection has gone, the chief of the rescue bid said Monday.

    "They (the four) will be kept away from their parents for a while because we are concerned about infections," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding doctors will decide on family visits "at a distance or through glass."

  • 14:15 (IST)

    Expect good news shortly from Thailand cave mission, says rescue chief

    The chief of an international mission to rescue nine members of a Thai football team still stuck inside a flooded cave on Monday said he was expecting "good news" shortly.

    "All the equipment is ready. Oxygen bottles are ready... in next few hours we will have good news," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, after announcing the second phase of the rescue bid had begun.

  • 14:02 (IST)

    Second phase of rescue op began at 11 am: Officials hope it'll be quicker than Sunday's op

    The second phase of the operation to evacuate the remaining nine members of a Thai football trapped deep in a flooded cave is underway, the chief of the rescue bid told reporters Monday.

    "At 11 am sent (in) the second operation," Narongsak Osottanakorn said, adding he hopes it will be "quicker" than Sunday's operation which brought out four of the team.

  • 13:57 (IST)

    Thailand cave rescue efforts put on hold to replenish air tank supplies

    Day after four boys were rescued from the Thailand caves, reports are now saying that the second stage of the search and rescue operations have been put on hold to replenish air tank supplies. 

  • 13:21 (IST)

    Buddhist monks arrive at the rescue site to offer prayers

    As the rescue operations entered its second day amid forecast of heavy monsoon rains through the week, senior Buddhist monks arrived at the rescue site to offer prayers for the boys and the football team coach still trapped inside the cave in Thailand. 

    Rescuers were able to extract four boys on Sunday and officials have said that they will need at least four days to rescue all those trapped inside the cave. 

  • 13:03 (IST)

    Extracting everyone could take four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that could be done

    Officials said that extracting everyone could take four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that could be done. Thailand's interior minister said the same divers who took part in Sunday's rescue will return as they know the cave conditions and what to do. The boys rescued Sunday were described as strong and safe but needed to undergo medical checks.

  • 12:58 (IST)

    New oxygen tanks being placed in the cave before the second stage of the rescue effort begins

    Authorities are preparing to resume extractions of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand a day after four boys were rescued.

    The dangerous mission began Sunday with rain threatening to raise water levels inside the cave where the team was stranded two weeks. There was a heavy but brief downpour Monday morning. New oxygen tanks were being placed in the cave before the second stage of the rescue effort began.

  • 12:16 (IST)

    Boys can be trapped underground for months, rescuers had warned

    According to a report in The Guardian, rescuers involved in the operation said that the boys can be trapped underground for months. The admission, however, came before Sunday's partially-successful operation, where the rescuers were able to extract four boys from the soccer team. Nine others are still trapped in the cave complex and experts said that the rescue operation will be trickier given that the weather forecast over the next few days have predicted heavy showers coupled with thunderstorms. 

  • 11:24 (IST)

    Officials considered drilling to rescue boys but getting necessary equipments would've been time consuming

    The cave system runs under a mountain range. Officials initially considered drilling as an approach for rescuing the boys, but that option has mostly been eliminated because getting the necessary drilling equipment up the mountain would be daunting and time-consuming.

  • 11:17 (IST)

    Boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels inside the cave complex

    Experts have said that the second day of rescue will be worse than Sunday because the boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels in the chamber where they are trapped. One rescue diver died Friday when he ran out of air while underwater.

    Experts also highlighted the fact that lack of scuba diving experience will make rescue operation treacherous. 

  • 11:15 (IST)

    Wild Boar soccer team fled rising waters at Pattaya Beach which has one of the smallest openings in the entire complex

    Authorities believe that the Wild Boar soccer team fled rising waters at Pattaya Beach, which has one of the smallest openings in the entire complex.  The divers found the 12 boys and their coach near this area, which is more than a mile and a half from the entrance.

  • 10:51 (IST)

    RECAP: Four members of 'Wild Boar' team in hospital after successful rescue mission

    On Sunday four members of the "Wild Boar" team were successfully brought out from the cave, after authorities decided they had to rush ahead with a rescue operation to beat monsoon rains.

    They were guided by expert divers who plotted the hours-long escape through more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) of twisting passageways and flooded chambers.

  • 10:49 (IST)

    Boys spent nine unaccounted days inside caves before British divers found them

    Thais have been fixated on the crisis, hoping desperately for the safe return of the boys and their 25-year-old coach, since they have been trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on 23 June because of rising waters.

    They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank above the flooding.

  • 10:36 (IST)

    19 Australian personnel involved in rescue ops, says Julie Bishop

    Australia's foreign minister says 19 Australian personnel are involved in the Thailand cave rescue operation including a doctor who's played an essential part in assessing which boys can leave and in what order.

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Australia that anesthetist and experienced cave diver Richard Harris is working with the Thai medical team inside the cave "to make the decisions about the order in which the boys were to be extracted."

  • 10:22 (IST)

    Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies

    Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave.


    But the rescue was prodded into action by the threat of a fresh round of rains and falling oxygen levels in the cave.

  • 10:18 (IST)

    Death of former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen underscored danger of the journey

    The death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey even for professionals.   Ambulances arrived early Monday at the cave entrance.

    The hordes of global and local media have been kept back from the cave and the hospital in Chiang Rai where the boys are believed to be under observation.

  • 10:03 (IST)

    Rescue operation gets trickier as experts highlight boys' lack of scuba diving experience

    To get the boys out, divers will be forced by the narrow passages to accompany them one at a time. None of the boys have scuba diving experience and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness.

    The lack of space has added complexity to storing enough canisters of oxygen along the route out.

  • 09:58 (IST)

    Agonising parents continue to be reunited with their sons

    With authorities releasing few details of the rescue bid, parents continued their agonising wait to be reunited with their sons.

    "I am still waiting here at the cave, keeping my fingers crossed to see whether my son will be one of those to come out today," Akkarat Wongsukjan, a mother of Pheerapat -- known by his nickname "Night" - told AFP.

  • 09:51 (IST)

    Looming rains threaten to flood Thailand caves, but that's not the only danger for those trapped, warn experts

    A treacherous rescue bid to free a youth football team trapped in a flooded Thai cave entered its second day on Monday. Nine of the "Wild Boars" still inside after elite divers guided four out. Looming rain was one of the main enemies of the operation, threatening to flood the cave complex in mountainous northern Thailand, although a bewildering array of other dangers could also doom their safe return.

  • 09:34 (IST)

    Divers need more air canisters for rescue op: Process can take several hours

    Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said that the divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach have been trapped since 23 June. He said that process can take several hours.

    He said the boys rescued Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.

  • 09:33 (IST)

    Same divers to continue Monday rescue operation: Thailand government

    Thailand's interior minister says same divers, who took part in Sunday's rescue of four boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, will also conduct the next operation as they know the cave conditions and what to do.

    Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining nine people from the cave in the country's north.

  • 09:27 (IST)

    Heavy rains increase urgency of rescue operation

    Heavy rains returned to the area as the rescuers went in to save the boys, after days of relative respite. Experts have said that the rain will not immediately make water levels rise within the cave, but it greatly increases the urgency of the operation.

  • 09:04 (IST)

    Four rescued boys in hospital

    The first four boys rescued team members were at the hospital, military and local officials told The New York Times. It will be hours before other boys can start the trip. Divers are replacing air tanks and supplies along their route until then.

  • 08:58 (IST)

    Rescuers had a little window of opportunity with the weather to rescue the 4 boys on Sunday

    CBS reported the Thai Navy Seals felt like they had a little window of opportunity with the weather. "They felt the boys were in the right condition to withstand this operation. And so far they have been right."

  • 08:42 (IST)

    Elon Musk's Space X testing 'kid-sized submarine' to rescue boys stuck in Thailand cave

    Elon Musk's Space X rocket company is testing a "kid-sized submarine" that could be sent to help boys trapped in a flooded Thailand cave.

    Musk posted videos on Twitter of the aluminum sub being tested at a swimming pool Sunday midafternoon California time. If the tests are successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand.

  • 08:35 (IST)

    60% chance of rain on Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week

    It was not immediately clear Monday how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave. 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 dangerous plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.

    Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.

  • 08:29 (IST)

    Rescue operations to resume soon

    Rescuers at Thai cave where eight boys and their soccer coach remain trapped have awoken to cloudy skies, after a night in which heavy monsoon rains lashed the mountainous region for several hours.

  • 08:12 (IST)

    Names of the rescued boys were not released

    "The operation went much better than expected," said Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is overseeing the mission.

    He told reporters the four rescued boys were taken to the hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, the provincial capital, for evaluation, and the next phase of the operation will resume after about 10-20 hours.

    The names of the rescued boys were not released.

Thailand cave rescue LATEST updates: The Thai Navy Seals in charge of the rescue operation confirmed that eight boys have now been rescued. Their Facebook page does not reveal the identity of the rescued boys.

 The threat of monsoon rains re-flooding the cave is not as acute as previously feared, according to Johannes Sander of the Munich base industrial weather forecasters Sander and partner, The Guardian reported.

CNN reported that operations to remove boys and their coach from the cave in northern Thailand have completed for the day, according to an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave.

 CNN reported that an eighth boy left the cave Monday and has been sent to a medical facility on site according to an eyewitness part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave.

  CNN reported that the seventh boy has been pulled out of the cave complex in northern Thailand on Monday. That brings the number of boys stranded inside down to five. Their soccer coach remains with them.

Twelve boys, all part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing with their coach more than two weeks ago.  The boys rescued on Monday were being sent to a medical facility on site, an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations told CNN.

CNN reported that the fifth boy rescued from the cave complex in northern Thailand has arrived at a hospital in Chiang Rai.

He will join his four teammates already being treated at the newly converted isolation ward at Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital.

Seven boys and their soccer coach still remain in the cave.

The Guardian reported that a source inside the rescue team confirmed a sixth boy has been rescued from the cave.

The Thai public broadcaster showed medical teams transferring the boy believed to be the fifth person rescued from the cave from an ambulance to a waiting helicopter, which then took off in the direction of Chiang Rai, where the four boys already brought out are in hospital.

Rescuers brought at least one boy out of the cave system on Monday, according to a witness outside the cave in northern Thailand.

He joins four other boys who were rescued on Sunday from deep inside the cave by a team of international and Thai dive experts.

The boys, all part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing over two weeks ago. Last Monday they were discovered huddled on a narrow shelf of rock deep within the flooded cave system.

Rescue chief overlooking operations in Thailand 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.

He also urged the media to behave respectfully. More than 1,000 journalists from across the world have descended on northern Thailand to report the story.

Four members of a Thailand youth football team guided out of a flooded cave complex will not be allowed physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection has gone, the chief of the rescue bid said Monday.

"They (the four) will be kept away from their parents for a while because we are concerned about infections," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, adding doctors will decide on family visits "at a distance or through glass."

The second phase of the operation to evacuate the remaining nine members of a Thailand football trapped deep in a flooded cave is underway, the chief of the rescue bid told reporters Monday.

"At 11 am sent (in) the second operation," Narongsak Osottanakorn said, adding he hopes it will be "quicker" than Sunday's operation which brought out four of the team.

Rescue and search operations in Thailand have been put on hold to replenish air tank supplies, reports have said. Officials said that extracting the remaining boys from the cave complex could take four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that could be done. Authorities are preparing to resume extractions of a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand a day after four boys were rescued.

The dangerous mission began Sunday with rain threatening to raise water levels inside the cave where the team was stranded two weeks. There was a heavy but brief downpour Monday morning. New oxygen tanks were being placed in the cave before the second stage of the rescue effort began.

Expert climbers, Thai Navy SEALs and rescuers launched a dangerous mission to rescue the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped inside the flooded cave in northern Thailand. Four out of the 13 were rescued on Sunday. The group has been trapped inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave for the last two weeks.

Eight boys and the coach remained inside the cave as authorities paused the international effort to replenish air tanks along the treacherous exit route.

Thailand cave rescue updates: Navy Seals confirm eight boys saved; rescue operations on hold for the day

Eight boys and the coach remained inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave as authorities paused the international effort to replenish air tanks along the treacherous exit route. AP

The cave system in Thailand runs under a mountain range. Officials initially considered drilling as an approach for rescuing the boys, but that option has mostly been eliminated because getting the necessary drilling equipment up the mountain would be daunting and time-consuming.

Experts have said that the second day of rescue will be worse than Sunday because the boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels in the chamber where they are trapped. One rescue diver died Friday when he ran out of air while underwater.

Officials initially considered drilling as an approach for rescuing the boys, but that option has mostly been eliminated because getting the necessary drilling equipment up the mountain would be daunting and time-consuming.

Thais have been fixated on the crisis, hoping desperately for the safe return of the boys and their 25-year-old coach, since they have been trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on 23 June because of rising waters. They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank above the flooding.

Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the northern Thailand mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave. But the rescue was prodded into action by the threat of a fresh round of rains and falling oxygen levels in the cave.

To get the boys out, divers will be forced by the narrow passages to accompany them one at a time. None of the boys have scuba diving experience and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness.

The lack of space has added complexity to storing enough canisters of oxygen along the route out.

Interior Minister of Thailand Anupong Paojinda said that the divers need to place more air canisters along the underwater route to where the boys and their coach have been trapped since 23 June. He said that process can take several hours.

He said the boys rescued Sunday are strong and safe but need to undergo detailed medical checks.

The first four boys rescued team members were at the hospital, military and local officials told The New York Times. It will be hours before other boys can start the trip. Divers are replacing air tanks and supplies along their route until then.

It was not immediately clear Monday how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave. 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 dangerous plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week.

Expert divers Sunday 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 dangerous and complicated operation unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

Eight boys and the coach remained inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave as authorities paused the international effort to replenish air tanks along the treacherous exit route. Extracting everyone could take up to four days, but the initial success raised hopes that could be done.

"The operation went much better than expected," said Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is overseeing the mission.

He told reporters the four rescued boys were taken to the hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, the provincial capital, for evaluation, and the next phase of the operation will resume after about 10-20 hours.

The names of the rescued boys were not released.

His announcement, at a news conference more than an hour after helicopters and ambulances were seen rushing from the cave area, drew cheers and applause.

Narongsak had dubbed Sunday to be "D-day" as the complicated effort was launched in the morning.

He said 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy SEALs were taking part in the key leg of the rescue: taking the boys from where they have been sheltering and through dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents.

Two divers were to accompany each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since July 2, when the first searchers found them.

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

The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route.

But Narongsak said earlier that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation. Those conditions won't last if the rain resumes, he said.

After the four boys were removed from the cave, heavy rain started falling.

The potential for rising water and the dwindling oxygen levels added to the urgency of getting the team out. Efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by heavy downpours.

Narongsak said Saturday that experts told him new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 10 square meters (108 square feet).

The next phase of the operation would start sometime Monday after rescue teams replenish the supply of oxygen tanks along the route.

On Sunday night, Thai navy SEALs posted a celebratory note on their Facebook page, saying: "Have sweet dreams everyone. Good night. Hooyah."

The boys and their coach, whose team is known as the Wild Boars, became stranded when they were exploring the cave after a practice game on June 23.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape route and prevented rescuers from finding them for almost 10 days.

The ordeal has riveted Thailand and captured the world's attention. The search and rescue operation has involved dozens of international experts and rescuers, including a U.S. military team.

Elon Musk's Space X rocket company tested a "tiny kid-sized submarine" that could potentially help the children through the narrow, flooded cave passageways. A spokesman for Musk's Boring Co. tunneling unit, which has four engineers at the cave, said in an email Sunday that Thai officials had requested the device. If the tests were successful, the sub would be placed on a 17-hour flight to Thailand. He posted a video of a diver testing the device in a pool.

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday: "The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!"

The boys sounded calm and reassuring in handwritten notes to their families that were made public Saturday. The notes were sent out with divers who made an 11-hour, back-and-forth journey.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine. I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken. With love."

"Don't be worried," wrote another boy, Mick. "I miss everyone. Grandpa, Uncle, Mom, Dad and siblings, I love you all. I'm happy being here inside, the navy SEALS have taken good care. Love you all."

One particularly touching note from another boy said: "I'm doing fine, but the air is a little cold, but don't worry. Although, don't forget to set up my birthday party."

In a letter of his own, coach Ekapol Chanthawong apologized to the boys' parents for the ordeal.

"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents," he wrote.

Read more about Thailand Cave Rescue Operation here

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Updated Date: Jul 09, 2018 19:59:53 IST

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