The head of the rescue operation to evacuate 12 boys and their coach from Tham Luang cave yesterday (July 8) said the operation had been successful so far, but the task will not be completed until the last person arrives at the cave entrance.
The second phase of a rescue operation has ended for the day, with more than half of the Thai soccer team rescued from the cave.
A daring rescue operation the likes of which the world has never seen is now underway with the participation of a team of Thai and worldwide divers.
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.
The dive team, led by worldwide experts, returned to the cave mid-morning Monday-earlier than expected-aiming to bring out more from the group of boys and their coach, who became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23.
Extracting everyone could take up to four days, but the initial success raised hopes that could be done.
The mission which started Sunday is a race against the clock with heavy rain expected this week which would again flood the tunnels with fast-flowing, rising water. Four boys and their coach remained inside the cave.
The trapped boys have been divided into groups.
After the ambulance was seen leaving the complex at around 5 p.M. Monday, a helicopter took off. Authorities have said helicopters were ready to take cave evacuees to a hospital.
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The 12 boys, part of a youth soccer team known as the Wild Boars, first went missing with their coach more than two weeks ago.
Four more of the trapped soccer team were rescued this morning, bringing the total to eight. 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.
Authorities declined to say how many boys would be extracted on Monday. "We have to quarantine them for a little while due to fear of infection".
The saga has dominated global headlines, with the team spending nine days unaccounted for inside the cave before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank. Thai Navy SEALs later announced two more had been freed in what Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn called a "very smooth operation".
The four rescued boys have been transported to a Chiang Rai hospital for treatment and medical evaluations, reported CBS.
Among those are USA military partners, British cave diving experts - including the two men who first located the boys a week ago - and rescue workers from Australia, China and other countries.
"You can't make a horror movie that would even compare", said Anmar Mirza with the National Cave Rescue Mission.
"We've been working continuously overnight", a Chiang Rai government source told AFP on Monday morning, requesting anonymity, and confirming that there had only been a pause of the actual extraction operations.
"I'm hoping for good news", he said. Kanet said the boys will be treated as disaster victims and given psychological evaluations and other assistance after their ordeal. Whether they will succeed in getting all of them out will depend on Monday night's planning and preparation, Narongsak said.