2nd rescue underway at flooded Thai cave

2nd rescue underway at flooded Thai cave

Four boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach still remain trapped underground as an worldwide effort of volunteer divers and elite Thai Navy Seals shuttle back and forth to bring them to safety.

The families of Thai boys rescued after a harrowing two weeks trapped in a cave deep underground will be allowed to see them today, but will be told not to hug or kiss them until health checks are complete.

The boys, members of the Wild Boars soccer team, were invited to the World Cup Final in Moscow if they make it out in time and can physically handle the trip.

Hospital authorities said the first group of four boys rescued on Sunday were in good health and they were mulling letting their parents meet their wards from Tuesday but from a glass door separation.

Then came the letters carried out by the teams of divers who took oxygen, food and medicine to the boys' refuge as experts pondered whether to dive them out or provision them for months while the monsoon season continues until at least late October.

The rescue operation is estimated to take 10 hours and end by 9 p.m. local time. Monsoon flooding blocked off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.

Twelve local footballers aged 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach had been trapped in the long, winding and partially flooded Tham Luang cave since June 23.

The rescued boys, whose condition remains unknown, were brought by helicopter to a hospital in Chiang Rai.

A cave diver and anaesthetist, Richard Harris, 53, from Adelaide, examined the boys and recommended that the authorities reverse an original plan to start the rescue with the strongest boys.

It was not immediately clear Monday how the overnight rains had impacted water levels inside the flooded cave.

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Thai authorities sent Harris into the Tham Luang cave to swim to the trapped boys immediately upon his arrival at the site on Saturday.

The effort to save the boys and their coach has involved both foreign divers and members of an elite Thai navy unit.

It was reported that heavy rain was falling at the media centre, around a mile from the cave entrance, which could scupper plans to get the boys out today.

Eighth-grade teacher Manusanit Chongpanyanon shared the good news Monday with the students that four of the wayward boys were rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on Sunday and another four were brought out on Monday.

Monday's operation shaved two hours off the time spent freeing the first four boys on Monday, officials said. "So to get them back to their baseline - which would require food, water, vitamins, all the nutrients that we normally have, plus reasonable exercise of muscle tone - would take a matter of weeks".

"If something changes, we'll stop", he said.

"I beg Phra Pirun because the Meteorological Department said that from Monday on there will be continuous rain", Major General Bancha Duriyapan said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha went to the cave to inspect the rescue operation later on Monday, with navy rescuers giving him a rousing cheer.

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.

Eight boys are still inside the cave and along with the team coach.

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