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Operation To Rescue Boys Trapped In Thai Cave Resumes: Officials

Bangkok: 

An operation to rescue a group of Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave resumed on Monday, said several officials with knowledge of the operation at the Tham Luang cave in the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai.

Nine members of the “Wild Boars” team are still inside the Tham Luang cave after foreign and Thai divers guided four boys out safely late on Sunday.

The dangerous bid to rescue the boys – aged between 11 and 16 – resumed after a break on Sunday night to replenish oxygen supplies and make other preparations deep inside the cave complex in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai province.

Authorities have said the mission could take three or four days to complete.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the operation told Reuters the operation to rescue more of the nine boys and their coach was underway, although no official confirmation was issued.

thai cave

The operation resumed after a 10-hour hiatus. 

“The mission has resumed,” a government official closely involved in the mission told Reuters, declining to be identified.

The boys and their coach set out to explore the vast Tham Luang cave complex after soccer practice on June 23, and got trapped when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers discovered the 13, huddled on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber deep several kilometres inside the complex, on Monday last week.

Then the problem became how to get them out as more rainy season showers loomed.

The rescue began on Sunday.

Divers held the first four boys close to bring them out and each had to wear an oxygen mask, authorities said.

Heavy rain soaked the area overnight, increasing the risks in what has been called a “war with water and time” to save the boys. But the rain largely held off on Monday.

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

Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the first four boys freed. Some of the boys’ parents told Reuters they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital.

The head of the rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said last week they would bring the fittest people in the group out first.

Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday’s operation the “strongest children” would be brought out first.

“We have not been told which child has been brought out … We can’t visit our boys in hospital because they need to be monitored for 48 hours,” Somboon told Reuters.

“I’m hoping for good news today,” he said.

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit are the main team guiding the boys to safety through narrow, submerged passageways that claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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