Thai cave rescue operation suspended after four more boys freed

Leroy Wright
July 11, 2018

An operation to rescue a group of Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave resumed on Monday, said several officials with knowledge of the operation at the Tham Luang cave in the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai. It was unclear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter. 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 complex.

Lastly came Pipat Bodhu, 15, aka Nick, who was not even in the team but came along as a friend of the goalkeeper. Gen. Bancha Duriyapan told a news conference, punctuated by applause from the dozens of Thai and foreign journalists and others in attendance. "We can't visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours", Somboon told Reuters.

Alluding to that worry, the regional army commander offered his thanks Monday to the rain god Phra Pirun, imploring him to "keep showing us mercy".

Authorities have been rushing to extract the boys, ages 11-16, and their coach from the cave as the annual monsoon bears down on the mountainous region in far northern Chiang Rai province.

"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.

"This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao", Narongsak said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice. Add Thailand Cave Rescue as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Thailand Cave Rescue news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, the governor said.

The story of the boys and their novice monk-turned-soccer coach from this small town on the Thai-Myanmar border - remarkably found alive nine days after they went missing June 23 - launched an global rescue effort and intricate planning on how to maneuver all 13 safely through the narrow passageways and ink-black waters.

CNN then reported an eight boy has been rescued and operations were completed for the day.

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Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda had said early Monday that the same group of expert divers who took part in Sunday's rescue would return to extricate the others because they know the cave conditions and what to do.

Authorities have said extracting the entire team from the cave could take up to four days, but Sunday's success raised hopes that it could be done faster.

The rescue operation to free a Thai soccer team from a cave is underway.

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

The rescue mission has been a huge operation, led by the Royal Thai Navy's SEAL unit, and supported by a cast of hundreds.

The risky bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - got going again hours earlier on Monday after a break to replenish oxygen supplies and make other preparations deep inside the cave complex.

The boys, however, were visited Monday evening by Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was kept about two meters away from the boys.

The cave complex is off-limits during the rainy season, which usually runs from May to October when downpours can quickly flood it. More worrying, however, oxygen levels in the chamber where the boys sought refuge were falling.

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