Four more boys have been rescued by divers from a flooded cave network in Thailand during the second day of an operation to save the young football team.
According to BBC News it has been confirmed by Thai Navy Seals that a total of eight boys have now been ‘extracted’.
The race is now on to rescue the remaining four boys and their football coach who are still inside the caves.
The group of 12, who are aged between 11 and 16, and their coach were trapped in the cave system on 23 June due to heavy rains and consequent flooding but were thankfully discovered by British divers last week – approximately 4km from the mouth of the cave.
The complicated rescue mission to free the boys and their coach commenced after fears that water levels could rise again, but involves cave diving within confined spaces and climbing. Officials initially thought that the stranded team may have to stay in the cave until the rainy season passed, which could have taken months.
On Sunday it was reported that four boys were rescued safely and were in ‘good health’, with the operation then ceasing overnight while air tanks were replaced. Thai Authorities said that this initial step of the mission ran ‘smoothly’.
Air ambulances have been spotted leaving the caves, with ambulances appearing at the hospital of Chiang Rai.
Rescue mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said the operation had resumed at 11:00 local time (04:00 GMT) on Monday and would conclude at 21:00.
An expert team of 90 divers (50 from overseas and 40 from Thailand) has been working on the mission to try and escort the youngsters to the mouth of the Tham Luang cave network, tackling challenging conditions including darkness and ‘submerged passageways’.
The journey to and from the location of the boys is a taxing one, even for professional divers, with a combination of climbing, walking, wading and diving along ropes needed to complete it.
The boys are being provided with full-face masks as they are new divers, and are each being accompanied by two divers who carry their air tank.
The most demanding section of the route is ’T-Junction,’ where divers need to take off their air tanks to fit through. Past that, ‘Chamber 3’ is the ‘forward base’ for the divers where the boys rest before completing walk to the entrance and then heading to Chiang Rai Hospital.
The rescue efforts have involved pumping water from the cave and mission chief Narongsak Osottanakorn stated on Sunday that the cave water levels ‘were at their lowest so far.’
The Thai Navy Seals leading the rescue say that the next phase of the mission “will depend on conditions,” but that the health of the remaining five people trapped is “good”.