Eight of the 12 boys trapped in a flooded and labyrinth cave system in far northern Thailand are safe and recuperating in a hospital after another four were brought out by divers on the second day of a high-stakes rescue operation, a top official said.
Five of their teammates and their assistant coach remained in the cave on Monday night pending rescue. "(But) the mission is not over yet", Prayut said.
The "Wild Boars" soccer team and their coach became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels. A retired Thai Navy SEAL assisting with the operation died Friday after running out of oxygen, underlining the danger of the rescue.
Medics appeared to remove one person on a stretcher but hid the person's identity behind multiple white umbrellas.
The foursome were taken to Prachanukroh hospital in Chiang Mai province, northern Thailand, where they have undergone a number of tests, x-rays and health checks. Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, the governor said.
Narongsak said that experts told him new rain could shrink the unflooded space where the boys are sheltering to just 108 square feet.
The rescued boys were being treated by medics at the field hospital, and were later airlifted to a larger nearby hospital.
"I feel very happy, everybody is happy", said Hnin Jaiwong, the mother of one of the trapped boys, 13-year-old Sompong Jaiwong.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Richard Harris, an anesthetist from Adelaide, Australia, has been one of the global dive experts seconded to assist with the hard and unsafe rescue mission.
After the four boys were removed from the cave, heavy rain started falling.
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Thai officials have been tight-lipped about the rescue operation , and would not comment on how many people were removed Monday. The first kilometer is the hardest, CNN explains, as that's where the children have to navigate a narrow flooded channel.
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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.
A deluge could overwhelm efforts to lower water levels in the caves - more than 32 million gallons of water were pumped out after the boys were found alive last Monday.
Narongsak said Monday's rescues involving 18 divers and a support team of 100 had taken nine hours, two fewer than the rescues Sunday.
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.
Thai officials had said Sunday that they were temporarily suspending the rescue effort so they could replenish oxygen supplies and other gear.
Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday's operation the "strongest children" would be brought out first.
The final four boys and the coach are en route to join the rest of the team in hospital, where they are being treated in isolation.
'We have not been told which child has been brought out.
"The weather conditions and other environments today are as good as yesterday".