Thai cave: Divers prepare to resume rescue operation

Thai soldiers prepare for the second day of an operation to bring football team out of Tham Luang cave complex

Rescuers working at a cave site in northern Thailand have suspended operations for the day after bringing four more boys out of the flooded cave system Monday, according to a witness working with the rescue team, bringing the total number of rescued boys to eight. He was taken by helicopter and ambulance to the same hospital in Chiang Rai where the first four boys rescued Sunday by a team of worldwide and Thai dive experts are being treated.

The daring and unsafe bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - was suspended by the mission chief late on Sunday to replenish oxygen supplies and make new preparations, which he said would take at least 10 hours.

The boys and their coach went exploring in the massive Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after a soccer practice, and were cut off when a rainstorm flooded the cave.

Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting on Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining eight boys and their football coach from the cave in the country's north. 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.

"I'm hoping for good news", he said.

It could take two to four days complete the mission, officials said.

On Sunday, it took 11 hours to bring out four persons.

Earlier, heavy rains in Chiang Rai province threatened to further delay the rescue operations.

Some of the boys' parents told Reuters they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital.

Progress came more easily on Monday, with replenished oxygen tanks and tightened guide ropes.

Among these were that none of the boys had scuba diving experience, and that they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness. Authorities say they want to get them out now, given the looming threat of more rain and floods.

The entire operation to rescue all 13 could last two to four days, depending on weather and water conditions, said army Maj.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister had visited Phuket to check on the search operation of tourists who were missing after a boat capsized off the resort island's coast on Thursday.

"As all of us said, the main thing is we still need more than 20 hours to get ready", Narongsak said.

Thai Navy SEALs later announced two more had been freed in what Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn called a "very smooth operation".

"They (the first four rescued) are well and happy".

Hundreds of spectators and journalists have gathered in the area around the cave, hoping for news that the boys and their coach would emerge safely.

They were the second batch to undertake the perilous journey out of Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai, after the first, weakest four left on Sunday in a similarly successful extraction.

The fifth boy was taken by helicopter to Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in the provincial capital Chiang Rai, while the sixth remained inside a medical tent before being moved. On top of all the concerns inside the cave, Thailand's rainy season is looming.

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