Monsoon Threatens Thailand Cave Rescue Operation

Credit PA

Australia's foreign minister says 19 Australian personnel are involved in the Thailand cave rescue operation including a doctor who's played an essential part in assessing which boys can leave and in what order. The rescue teams had rehearsed the plan for several days, Narongsak said, and had managed to drain the water level in the cave considerably, but needed to move fast.

Complicated rescue: Local government officials said 13 foreign and five Thai divers are taking part in the long and risky operation to free the 12 young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach.

An eighth both has left the cave Monday and been sent to a medical facility on site according to an eyewitness who is part of the rescue operations stationed at the entrance of the cave.

The group of 12 boys has been trapped inside a cave in northern Thailand for two weeks.

Narongsak said the healthiest have been taken out first, and the next phase of the operation would start in 10-20 hours.

The boys and their coach had been stranded in Tham Luang Nang Non when they went exploring in the cave after a scrimmage. They had been missing for 10 days before they were discovered.

His news of creating an escape pod came after United States and Thai officials got four boys out of the flooded cave network after spending 15 days trapped along with their soccer coach.

It is still not clear how the boys will be rescued. The rescue efforts involve resources from UK, USA, and local teams as well.

However another operation commander said the operation would take two to three days to complete, with the boys and their coach being brought out one-by-one, and that the weather conditions would play a role in determining how long it would take. General Kongcheep Tantrawanit said, referring to the area where rescue workers had set up a base.

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The key leg of the rescue is taking the boys from where they have been sheltering and through dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy water and strong currents. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out and died making the dive Friday.

Narongsak said Sunday morning two divers would escort each of the boys out of the cave.

Four of the boys were rescued on Sunday, and authorities said the next phase could begin any time within a 10-hour window that began about 7 a.m. Monday. "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission".

They were followed shortly afterwards by four others, leading to an explosion of jubilation on social media in Thailand and around the world as the rescued boys were rushed to hospital. Two others were brought out about two hours later.

It is expected that the operation will continue in the next 12 hours.

The operation paused Sunday evening so that rescue teams could refresh the supply of oxygen tanks that have been placed along the escape route inside the cave, Narongsak said. The boys are between 11 and 16 years old.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around in hospital.

None of the boys have scuba diving experience and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness. The team is huddled in an enclosed area of the cave, in which oxygen levels are falling, and the incoming rain could end up shrinking the unflooded space to around 100 square feet.

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