Thai cave rescue operation suspended after four more boys freed

Thai cave rescue operation suspended after four more boys freed

The eight boys rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand are in "high spirits" and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players, a senior health official said Tuesday, as rescuers prepared for a third push to rescue five still deep in the cave.

Authorities have been rushing to extract the boys, ages 11-16, and their coach from the cave as the annual monsoon bears down on the mountainous region in far northern Chiang Rai province.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrived in Chiang Rai and visited the eight rescued boys in the hospital Monday night, according to Osatanakorn.

Rescuers have been navigating a unsafe and complicated plan to get the children out under the threat of heavy rain and rising water underground.

The four boys rescued Sunday were receiving medical treatment at Prachanukroh hospital in Chiang Rai, around 35 miles away. "We can't visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours", Somboon told Reuters.

A daring rescue operation the likes of which the world has never seen is now underway with the participation of a team of Thai and global divers.

Hundreds of spectators and journalists have gathered in the area around the cave, hoping for news that the boys and their coach would emerge safely.

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

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Former Thai navy SEAL Saman Kunan passed out making the dive on Friday and died. Two divers were assigned to each child to help them navigate the unsafe, narrow passageways. Authorities say it could take a total of three to four days to get the remaining boys and the coach out of the cave.

He first tweeted about the situation in Thailand, which has been watched closely across the world since the boys and their coach were all miraculously found alive after nine days underground, on 4 July, saying he would be "happy to help if there is a way to do so". More than 100 rescuers, including 18 divers, were involved in Monday's rescue effort. "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 a popular Thai dish.

But bringing out the remaining four boys and their coach could take more than one operation, Narongsak warned.

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.

"The weather conditions and other environments today are as good as yesterday". Two other boys came out at 7:40 p.m. and 7:50 p.m.

The cave complex is off-limits during the rainy season, which usually runs from May to October, when downpours can quickly flood it. Relatives said the boys had been inside the complex during the dry season.

The president of soccer's governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out in time.

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