MAE SAI, Thailand - Eight of the 12 boys trapped in a flooded and labyrinth cave system in far northern Thailand are safe and recuperating in a hospital after another four were brought out by divers on the second day of a high-stakes rescue operation, a top official said.
The boys brought out of the dark, winding cave on Monday are “safe and conscious,” said Chiang Rai province acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is in charge of the rescue effort. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was visiting all eight in the nearby hospital that they were helicoptered to, he said.
Monday’s operation began at 11 a.m. and took nine hours, two fewer than Sunday, with rescuers helped by the experience they’ve accumulated, Narongsak told a news conference punctuated with rounds of applause.
“We have more operating personnel. And we have more expertise than yesterday,” he said.
But rescuing the remaining five people, which includes the boys’ 25-year-old soccer coach, could take more than one operation, Narongsak said.
The urgent and dangerous effort has involved the boys diving through the cave’s tight and twisting passages, guided by experienced divers.
The boys and their coach went exploring in the massive Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after a soccer practice, and were cut off when a rainstorm flooded the cave.
A massive international search operation was launched and it took 10 days to locate the boys, who had taken shelter on a dry slope deep in the complex.
Authorities have said extracting the entire team from the cave could take up to four days, but two straight days of success raised hopes that it could be done faster.