Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Newest rescues are healthier than first boys freed from cave

Thai military medical personnel move Thai military medical personnel move
Melinda Barton | 09 July, 2018, 23:52

The initial rescue team is made up of 13 foreign divers and five Thai navy seals, with an overall team of 90 divers taking part in the rescue operation.

The boys, who are aged between 11 and 16 years old, along with their 25-year-old coach Ekkapol Chantawong, went to explore the Tham Luang Nang Non cave after football practice, but did not return home that night.

Four more boys stuck in a cave in northern Thailand for days have been rescued overnight.

When it was realised that the boys were in the cave system, divers began the process of trying to find them in the enormous area.

Officials later confirmed the operation was under way again from about 11am local time (5am BST).

The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday in an urgent and unsafe operation that involved them diving through the cave's tight and twisting passages were in good health. Some stretches of the Tham Luang cave are more than 10m (33ft) high, while others are a tight squeeze through water-filled passages.

Authorities have been tightlipped about the progress of Monday's operation.

Four boys and the coach are still trapped.

The four who were rescued previously were taken to a hospital in Chiang Rai for evaluation.

A witness on the scene reported seeing three people being carried on stretchers from the cave into an ambulance on Monday, with the first one emerging around 4:30 p.m., Reuters said.

The current rescue operation is not, Tracy said, "the preferred option".

A source involved in the rescue mission who saw two of the four boys walk out of the cave told Reuters that they looked exhausted but healthy, adding that one even looked "vivacious and fresh". It was unclear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter. One option, he offered, included inserting a tube or a series of tubes through the Tham Luang cave network and inflating them, creating a tunnel for the boys to travel though without needing to scuba dive.

The second operation started at 11 a.m. local time Monday.

Narongsak said experts told him the new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to 108 square feet.

"Today is D-Day", Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters earlier in the day. Crews will have to replenish air tanks along the route before rescuing the others. Osatanakorn said hospital officials are working on a plan to allow parents to see the boys "at a distance through glass".

He had said fresh air tanks needed to be laid along the underwater route.

In a press conference, Narongsak said the four who escaped were "safe" but released few details about their condition or identities.

Eight boys and the coach remain trapped underground.

Water levels have a massive effect on the difficulty of the rescue operation.

Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week. But officials waited several hours before confirming their rescue. "Their plan is designed for rescuing four". The boys brought out of the cave Sunday and Monday are being treated in a hospital in Chiang Rai, but are being kept in quarantine for now by doctors concerned that they could contract or spread infection.

Early on Sunday morning, all media and non-essential staff were cleared from the cave site area as divers, medics and military began moving into place.

Rescuers have conceded that evacuating the boys is a race against time with monsoon rains expected to undo days of around-the-clock drainage of the deluged cave.

At the hospital in Chiang Rai, green canvas sheets had been put up to block the entrance from view.