Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Rescuers prepare to move rest of boys, coach from Thai cave

Rescuers prepare to move rest of boys, coach from Thai cave

Unconfirmed reports that the boys' coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, was among the first four to be evacuated because of the poor state of his health, were dismissed on Monday.

The rescued boys are likely to stay in Chiang Rai hospital for 48 hours undergoing medical tests to check their health after they swam through dirty floodwaters to exit the cave.

The names of the rescued boys were not released.

Narongsak had dubbed yesterday to be "D-day" as the complicated effort was launched in the morning.

Thirteen divers and five Thai Navy SEALs are involved in the operation, in which the trapped team must walk or wade through muddy areas of the winding cave and rising waters.

Officials have said storms forecast for the province had factored into their decision to go ahead with a complicated and risky plan to have the boys and their coach dive out of the cave. The rescue team is the same team with a few replacements. A retired Thai Navy SEAL assisting with the operation died Friday after running out of oxygen, underlining the danger of the rescue. He added that the rescue mission today was the "best situation".

Narongsak said ahead of the rescue dive that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation.

Night's relatives have said they believe the group went to the cave to celebrate his 16th birthday after a Saturday football practice and got caught as heavy rains caused the water inside the cave to suddenly rise.

These divers have been working together to help guide the boys through the long, hard passages of the cave. Heavy rain has struck the region intermittently over the last three days and further downpours could set back draining efforts at the cave.

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"If Phra Pirun helps us, we might be able to do it very quickly", Narongsak said, again invoking the god of rain, who is widely revered in Thailand.

The operation resumed after a 10-hour hiatus.

Police and military personnel use umbrellas to cover around a stretcher near a helicopter and an ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai on July 9, 2018, as rescue operations continue for those still trapped inside the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest.

Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and they have been on a rocky shelf inside a cave chamber since.

The ordeal has riveted Thailand and captured the world's attention. "I've been involved in cave rescue for 30 years and I can not even think of one that was more complicated".

Even tech billionaire Elon Musk has been lending a helping hand. Students and teachers at Maesaiprasitsart school, attended by numerous children, have been given instructions to avoid "talk that hurts [the boys'] feelings", said teacher Thongyaud Kejorn.

All preparations, including replacing the oxygen cylinders positioned along the route out in the cave, take at least 20 hours, he said. He posted a video of a diver testing the device in a pool. "Very courageous and talented people!"

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the rescued boys. I've told Yod to get ready to take me out for fried chicken. "With love." "Don't be anxious", wrote another boy, Mick. "I'm so happy the children came out safely". The boys and their coach have been stranded about four kilometers inside the cave.

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