Thai cave: Divers prepare to resume rescue operation

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

Officials have yet to confirm the identities of the four boys freed.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation, with navy rescuers giving him a rousing cheer.

A press briefing was to be held shortly.

A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS guided four boys on Sunday and a further four on Monday through narrow, submerged channels from the muddy bank deep inside the Tham Luang cave where they had been stranded for more than two weeks.

Monday's operation began at 11 a.m. and took nine hours, two fewer than Sunday, with rescuers helped by the experience they've accumulated, Narongsak told a news conference punctuated with rounds of applause.

Thai officials have confirmed that they are prioritising the weaker boys first, in order to ensure they get quick treatment. "We have to quarantine them for a little while due to fear of infection".

Thailand's Health Secretary said last week that on arrival at the hospital the boys would need to be quarantined for one to two days before being allowed to see their families. They were in good condition in hospital, officials said.

Crews also say rescue operations have stopped for the day, according to CNN.

The football team went missing on June 23, having gone into the caves after Saturday practice to do some exploring, and ended up being trapped by rising flood water.

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Officials lavished praise on the Thai and worldwide divers who executed the unsafe rescue mission, guiding boys who can barely swim and have no diving experience through a treacherous 4-kilometer-long (2 1/2-mile) escape route that twisted and turned and rose and fell inside the mountain cave complex. New oxygen tanks were placed before the second stage of the rescue effort began. "The children complained that they were hungry and wanted holy basil stir-fried rice", Narongsak Osottanakorn, the head of the rescue operation, told reporters on Monday, referring to the popular Thai dish.

In an indication of how risky the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday.

He said the four boys rescued on Monday have been sent to the hospital and their conditions are good, "better than those brought out yesterday".

A vehicle loaded with oxygen tanks is seen near the Tham Luang cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Narongsak Osatanakorn, the former Chiang Rai governor who's been heading the rescue operation, said the four children had to dive more than half a mile to get to safety.

Narongsak said he was not sure if the remaining five people will be extracted in one or more operations.

Three were boys on the football team and the fourth was their coach, Ekapol Chantawong, 25. More than 100 rescuers, including 18 divers, were involved in Monday's rescue effort.

The world has been watching, and an worldwide team of divers and support crews were assembled to aid the rescue.

Lastly came Pipat Bodhu, 15, aka Nick, who was not even in the team but came along as a friend of the goalkeeper.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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