Thailand cave operation called off for day with 8 now rescued

12 Julio, 2018, 09:50 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Richard William Stanton Robert Charles Harper and John Volanthen

Rescue workers in Thailand on Monday brought four boys safely out of a labyrinthine flooded cave complex where a 12-member soccer squad and their coach were trapped for more than two weeks, taking the total number rescued to eight.

The team became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the cave after soccer practice and rains flooded the tunnels, trapping them inside. The remaining four boys and coach were brought to safety Tuesday morning as part of a third day of rescue operations.

Four boys and the coach are still to be rescued.

A team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS guided the boys during a nine-hour operation through almost 4 km of sometimes submerged, pitch-dark channels from where they have been trapped for more than a fortnight.

The ninth boy was carried from the cave on a stretcher shortly AFTER 11:00 SAST, Reuters and CNN reported. "But we will have a psychiatrist to evaluate them".

"We had imagined all sorts of catastrophic situations - equipment breaking, children panicking", he said, adding that the officials had backup options in mind in case anything falls apart.

At a news conference, Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can't yet take the spicy food favoured by many Thais.

Monday's rescue mission, which saw four boys extracted before dusk and whisked to Chiang Rai hospital, took around nine hours.

But the chances of monsoon rains sending torrents of water into the cave and making the rescue effort too risky is never far from the minds of everyone involved in the operation. "Mini-sub is ready if needed".

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But although the eight were rescued, there were concerns they may have contracted an illness while in the cave.

The identity of the rescued boys has not been confirmed by authorities.

Narongsak said after the first four boys were rescued that they would be quarantined "for a while because we are concerned about infections".

They'll also be bringing back 3 Navy SEALS and a medic who have been in the cave with the team since the first day of the rescue efforts.

Narongsak decided on Sunday to launch the rescue operation after being assured the water had receded and the boys' health was improving thanks to nourishment given them by the SEALs team.

Authorities had closely guarded the details of the boys' condition, who will be monitored in hospital for a week.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was scheduled to make a second visit to the scene late on Monday and the president of soccer's governing body, FIFA, Gianni Infantino, today invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out of the cave in time. "But when I saw that he was alive and breathing, it felt very good".

Last Friday, an ex-Navy SEAL died while placing oxygen tanks along the 4.7-kilometer (2.9-mile) evacuation route.

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