Thai cave rescue: Divers embark on mission to rescue final five

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Boys from the soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave covered in hypothermia blankets react to the camera in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal.

As the eight boys already rescued from Thailand's Tham Luang Cave convalesce in a Chiang Rai hospital, an global rescue team has entered the flooded cave system for the third consecutive day to free the four children and their 25-year-old soccer coach still trapped inside.

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said a final operation would be "more challenging" because one more survivor would be brought out than the previous two operations, along with three Navy SEALs who have been accompanying them.

Eight of the boys were taken out of the cave during the first two days of rescue operations, but five others remain trapped on a ledge 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) inside the cave system.

"Today (Tuesday) we hope to be faster", Narongsak added, of the complex and risky operation that involves diving through narrow, flooded chambers.


"All eight are in good health, no fever. everyone is in a good mental state", Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told reporters on Tuesday at Chiang Rai hospital in the clearest update on their condition so far.

The Associated Press reports that the families of the boys "were being kept at a distance because of fears of infection and the emaciated-looking boys were eating a rice-based porridge because they were still too weak to take regular food, authorities said". Officials are constantly pumping water out of the caves, and Sunday gave the rescue crews the best chance of recovering more survivors after days of decent weather and pumping reduced flood levels.

He said he hoped the rescue mission, which would begin with 19 divers and include more throughout the day, would proceed even faster than Monday's nine-hour operation.

The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14. "They can have normal food but we are making sure it is easily digestible, not spicy or too strongly flavoured".

They're all likely to stay the hospital for seven days due to their weakened immune systems, Chokedamrongsook said. Rescue operations have halted for the night and will restart on Tuesday.


Each of the rescued boys has been guided through the dark winding cave by a pair of divers.

The final push to bring home four boys and their soccer coach by a crew of worldwide and Thai divers began in earnest on Tuesday.

"Four plus one coach, so it's five".

The submarine has been dubbed "Wild Boar, ' named after the young boys" soccer team.

"I insist that all 13 will be safe and sound", Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn said at a news conference on Monday. The same process was used Sunday for at least one of the four boys rescued in the first attempt at getting the 12 boys and their coach out of the underground cave complex. Seven Britons chaperoned the boys through the treacherous tunnels as part of a team that included 18 global cave divers and five elite Thai navy SEALS.


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