8 of 13 trapped in flooded Thai cave rescued

The hope of saving the remaining five trapped in a flooded Thai cave brightened as four more boys were pulled by a large team of divers when the second day of rescue operation ended on Monday.

“2 days, 8 Wild Boars. Hooyah,” the Thai Navy SEALs said in a post on their official Facebook page, referring to the boys and their coach by the name of their school football team.

Four boys who were saved from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on Sunday are reported to be in good health and undergoing medical checks in a provincial hospital.

The operation to rescue the boys was riskier on the first day as divers were not familiar with the cave’s dark and twisting passages along the six-hour underwater route. But the rescue work became easier and faster on the second day as the same divers, who by now knew the cave conditions, were employed along with additional divers.

The four remaining boys and their coach will be rescued on Tuesday, said Narongsak Osottanakorn, commander of the search and rescue mission. He did not identify the boys rescued so far out of respect for the families of those still trapped inside the cave.

The four boys rescued on Sunday looked tired and hungry as they asked for a Thai dish of meat served over rice. Narongsak said they could only have rice soup for now as their system is too delicate after the cave ordeal.

Relatives who visited them in the hospital were not allowed close contact for fear of infections. Anyone who spends days in a cave is susceptible to an air-borne lung infection caused by bat and bird droppings.

Authorities advanced the rescue operation as monsoon rains were set to intensify in the mountainous Chiang Rai province where the cave is located. Workers have been engaged round the clock in draining off water from the cave using pumps.

Oxygen levels in the cave complex are dangerously falling and authorities on Tuesday will be insisting on placing fresh air tanks along the underwater route.

Officials are concerned about the safety of the rescuers after the death of a former Thai navy SEAL on Friday. He died while placing air canisters along the underwater passage.

The 12 boys and their coach were exploring the labyrinthine cave on June 23 after a soccer practice when a rainstorm flooded the complex. A massive search operation was launched and on the tenth day, they were found on a dry slope deep in the complex.