Thailand cave rescue: Rescued boys are 'happy and well'

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"Hooyah", the Thai Navy SEALs, who have played a crucial role in the against-the-odds operation, said in a Facebook post as they announced that a total of eight members of the "Wild Boars" football team had been rescued on Sunday and Monday.

Channel News Asia reported seeing three helicopters flying from the cave toward the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where the rescued boys are being treated in a hospital.

On Sunday, officials waited until several hours after the rescued boys had been transported to hospitals to announce their rescue. Thai Navy SEALs and global cave diving experts brought out four boys Sunday, and the operation is continuing today.

The effort to save the boys and their coach has involved both foreign divers and members of an elite Thai navy unit.

Thai authorities say four more boys have arrived safely at the hospital following their rescue after having been trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks.

Thais have been fixated on the crisis, hoping desperately for the safe return of the 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach, after they ventured into the Tham Luang cave complex after practice and became trapped by rising waters more than a fortnight ago.

"This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao", he said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice.

They have not yet been able to see their families due to risk of infections, but a reunion should be taking place in hospital late on Monday.

Doctors fear the children, who are aged between 11 and 16, may have contracted illnesses or infections while they were trapped underground.

An ambulance leaves the Tham Luang cave area with one of the four boys extracted by divers yesterday from the complex in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park.

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 worldwide divers.

Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osotthanakorn on Monday said the operation on the second day started at 11am.

Monday's mission involved 18 divers from Thailand and overseas. Narongsak on Monday said their identities were being protected out of respect for the families of those still trapped inside the cave.

Update: Seven Out Alive: More Daring Cave Rescue Success! "Some of them had gone to rest, some others are preparing for the next operation". Now waiting to receive 4 divers to come out. "We should hear good news again", Narongsak said.

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

Among those are United States military partners, British cave diving experts - including the two men who first located the boys a week ago - and rescue workers from Australia, China and other countries. "The boys' strength, the plan - today we are ready like before".

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. More worrying, however, oxygen levels in the cave were falling.