Elon Musk shares video of 'kid-size' submarine for Thai cave rescue

Rescue workers are seen at the Tham Luang cave area as operations continue for the 12 boys and their coach trapped at the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park of Chiang Rai province

Rescuers reportedly took the four weakest boys out of the Tham Luang caves first as the mission to free the 12 soccer players and their coach began on Sunday.

It was unclear who was inside the ambulances or the helicopter.

Thai authorities earlier said that it could take days for the divers to rescue all the boys and the football coach.

But rescuers have a dwindling window of opportunity, with forecasters predicting the return of heavy monsoon rains in the coming days, effectively sealing off the cave until October.

"They are now at the field hospital near the cave", Tossathep Boonthong, chief of the health department in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, told Reuters earlier.

Rescuers hope to extract the remaining eight over the next two days, although there are concerns that further monsoon rainfall will hamper efforts.

Dark clouds and fog shrouded the area around the cave as a steady rain began falling in the early afternoon.

A source inside the Chiang Rai Prachanukroh hospital where the boys are being kept said their condition was "not bad" but said doctors were watching for signs of emerging conditions such as hypothermia. "The boys are ready to face any challenges", rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters near the cave site.

On Saturday morning, the Thai navy posted photos of letters that the group had written to their families and the outside world.

The boys urged relatives "not to worry" and asked for their favourite food once they were safely evacuated, in notes handed to divers.

The decision to move the boys using divers has not been taken lightly.

Twelve youths aged from 11 to 16 were trapped, while a massive worldwide rescue effort has been mounted including Thai Navy divers and foreign volunteers. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out making the dive Friday and died. I miss you dearly. The two spent time looking for sponsors and used the team to prove to the boys they could become something more than their small town would suggest - even professional athletes.

The third teenager rescued from the cave was said to need immediate medical attention, and instead of being taken by ambulance he was airlifted to hospital straight from the cave mouth.

Dr Andrea Dese, head of the stress and development lab at Kings College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, said: 'In the longer term, most children will recover from the initial emotional symptoms.

The process includes a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes already in place.

Thai officials said Friday that oxygen levels inside the cave plummeted to a unsafe 15% - shy of the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's "optimal range" of oxygen, which is between 19.5% and 23.5%.

"We've been working continuously overnight", a Chiang Rai government source told AFP on Monday morning, requesting anonymity, and confirming that there had only been a pause of the actual extraction operations.

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