8 boys freed from Thai cave; rescuers working to save 5 others

Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation

Onlookers watch and cheer during the rescue operation

The search and rescue operation has riveted people both in Thailand and internationally, with journalists from across the globe travelling to this town along the border with Myanmar to report on the ordeal. The official declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Eight of the children have been removed so far with the help of the Thai Navy SEALs, and experts and elite divers from around the world.

Thai authorities have said they are welcoming all offers of help in the rescue effort for the boys, who became trapped in a complex cave system in mountainous northern Thailand on Jun 23 when rising waters hemmed them in. Each boy is being accompanied by two divers and it takes hours to negotiate the flooded tunnels through the dark, murky water. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route.

"No hugging" or "touching" would be allowed between the boys and their relatives, however, until all medical tests are completed, the official said.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn said Saturday that mild weather and falling water levels in recent days had created the "perfect" conditions for an underwater evacuation.

Expert divers Sunday rescued four of 12 boys from a flooded cave in northern Thailand, as a unsafe and complicated operation unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground.

As of Monday morning, eight boys and their coach remained in the cave where they have been trapped by floods since June 23.

Thai authorities are being tight-lipped about who was inside an ambulance seen leaving the site of a flooded cave Monday, as they were the night before when four of the 13 people trapped inside the underground complex were rescued.

Workers have been laboring around the clock to pump water out of the cave, and authorities said Monday that heavy downpours overnight did not raise water levels inside.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda told reporters the rescued boys were in good health in hospital but did not give details.

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According to the sources, 47 people got injured in the blast and now are under treatment at Lady Ready Hospital in Peshawar . After being informed, rescue teams, police and ambulances rushed to the crime spot and investigation is underway.

There was no word on the condition of any of the people brought out on Monday.

The children's families have not been told which boys have been rescued. They wore full-faced masks "while hanging on to the bodies of rescue divers", Channel News Asia reported.

Phuwadech Kamnguen, a 14-year-old best friend of one of the trapped boys, said he's looking forward to eating KFC with the team again.

The hint of setting sun and blue skies broke through the heavy clouds behind the caves as a helicopter whirred through the sky, carrying the last of the team south to a hospital in nearby Chiang Rai.

He said the plan is to launch the third rescue mission within 20 hours, and he is hoping for "100 per cent success".

'We have not been told which child has been brought out.

As for the boys who have been rescued, they are in isolation and being monitored at a hospital for infection.

"I'm hoping for good news", he said. One was that it was unknown how safe and dry the area where they had taken shelter would stay as Thailand's rainy season, which lasts until at least late October, picks up pace.

The boys are being escorted out of the complex cave system via a team of divers.

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