2nd rescue underway at flooded Thai cave

ASSOCIATED PRESS           Two helicopters wait near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach on Monday

ASSOCIATED PRESS Two helicopters wait near the cave for more evacuations of the boys and their soccer coach on Monday

Families of the four boys who were rescued on Sunday evening have not yet seen them since they were rushed to the Chiangrai Prachanukroh hospital, about 60 miles from the cave.

An ambulance carrying one of the boys rescued from the Tham Luang cave network on Sunday.

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.

Worldwide experts set up rescue communications, while Thai villagers flocked to a muddy rescue site to set up food stalls and massage stations.

The boys and their coach went exploring in the massive cave on June 23 after a soccer practice, and were cut off when a rainstorm flooded the cave.

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

"The operation went much better than expected", mission head Narongsak Osottanakorn said on Sunday.

The goal is to get them all out before heavy rain forecasted makes it even more hard to reach them.

"Give us three more days and the Boars will come out to see the world, every one of them", Maj-Gen.

But Narongsak said earlier that recent mild weather and falling water levels had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation. One of the boys was removed by divers, placed on a stretcher and hospitalized. Divers have taught the boys to breathe through full-face scuba gear for the areas they must swim underwater.

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"Adolescents are especially social creatures, and having friends with them as well as their coach would be a tremendous help", said David Spiegel, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University's medical school.

The second group of four rescued on Monday are aged 12 to 14.

Anupong Paojinda said officials were meeting on Monday morning about the next stage of the operation and how to extract the remaining eight boys and their football coach from the cave in the country's north. 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., necessary for divers to safely travel the five to six hour route to where the boys are.

The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight.

It had been assumed that the four extracted yesterday were boys, but it emerged that the fourth person taken out was the coach, Mr Ekapol. The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL underscored the risks.

Omar Reygadas, who spent 69 days trapped underground in Chile in 2010 with 32 other miners, said faith and prayer, as well as humour were very important to the miners at times when they doubted they would get out.

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

On Sunday afternoon, Elon Musk tweeted that the kid-size submarine his team had developed to assist with the rescue of Thai boys trapped in a cave was en route to Thailand.

UPDATE 0841 ET: The rescue operation has been suspended for the night in Thailand.

The perilous rescues have involved two divers accompanying each boy, all of whom have been learning to dive since July 2, when searchers found them.

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