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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Thai cave rescue: eight boys now saved - day two as it happened

Eight members of Thai football team rescued, according to reports, leaving four and the coach remaining

  • Rescue nears end of second day to extract remaining members of football team and coach from a cave in northern Thailand
  • The operation may take up to four days to extract the entire group, but the first rescues took place quicker than expected
  • It is reported that eight boys have been rescued by divers, and all have been taken to hospital

Read more: Everything we know about the Thai cave rescue | Editorial: Global support for Thai boys is inspiring | Recap Day 1 updates | All updates in UAE time (UTC+4)

This blog is now closed, follow our day three live updates

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18:50 Mission chief speaks: optimistic for tomorrow, operation getting faster

The rescue mission chief said in a press conference he is pleased the teams were able to rescue four boys today, and he is optimistic about the prospects for tomorrow.

Narongsak Osotanakorn, however, was unable to confirm that all of the remaining five — four boys and their coach — will come out tomorrow, saying "the best number is four".

The operation was reviewed overnight to make it sharper, allowing the rescue team to shave two hours off the total time compared with the day before. More than 100 divers took part in today's operation, including 18 international cave divers.

Mr Osotanakorn said that like yesterday, they will have to resupply oxygen levels and will launch a third rescue mission within 20 hours.

The press conference came shortly after the Thai prime minister visited the cave site to thank the rescue divers. Mr Chan-o-cha immediately went to Chiang Rai hospital where all of the rescued boys are in quarantine.

The boys are not yet able to meet their relatives due to fear of infection.

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18:30 Thai prime minister posts pictures of visit

Thai prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha posted pictures on his Facebook page of his visit.

The pictures show Mr Chan-o-cha shaking hands with Thai divers and international rescue teams.

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17:40 A special dinner at the media centre is served

Reporters had a special dinner at the media centre this evening.

Khao pad kraprow, the tasty basil chicken dish the first boys who were rescued from the cave requested, was served.

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How each rescue unfolds

Each of the boys are accompanied by two divers, one at the front, one at the back.

They are led through a predetermined route in the caves, guided by ropes.

Additional oxygen tanks are supplied incrementally so the boys and the divers can top up with oxygen.

Ramon Penas / The National
Ramon Penas / The National

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17:25 Navy Seals confirm eight Wild Boars saved

The Thai navy Seals confirmed they have rescued eight of the Wild Boar football team.

An aide to the Thai navy Seal commander told Associated Press they had rescued eight of the team.

The Seals posted the news on their Facebook page counting each child and finishing with "2 days, 8 people. Hooyah."

Only four boys and their coach, plus the rescue teams remain in the cave.

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17:20 Thai prime minister visits cave site

Thai prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has arrived at the Tham Luang cave complex.

Thai soldiers saluted the prime minister's convoy as it went past.

Mr Chan-o-cha posted on his Facebook page a picture from a plane window saying he is going to Chiang Rai, the nearest city to the Tham Luang cave.

Reports from the ground describe the prime minister speaking to families at the cave.

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16:00 Eighth person carried out on stretcher - Reuters

An eighth person has been carried out of the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand, according to Reuters.

It is unconfirmed whether the last three people to emerge on stretchers are boys from the "Moo Pa" (Wild Boars) academy team or others involved in the rescue.

CNN International is reporting that eight boys have been pulled out of the cave alive.

If this is confirmed, only four boys and their coach will remain inside the cave, plus the rescue workers.

The global media is waiting for confirmation from Thai authorities on how many boys have now been rescued.

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15:35 Seventh person emerges on stretcher

A seventh person has emerged from the cave, where the daring rescue operation continues, says Reuters.

Two people, thought to be members of the "Moo Pa" (Wild Boars) academy team, emerged at the same time.

A field hospital is assessing the needs of the boys at the mouth of the cave before they are taken to a local hospital where they are quarantined and monitored.

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15:30 The boys' first meal

The first boys who left the cave asked for pad grapow, a Thai dish with basil chicken, rice and egg, as their first meal.

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15:20 Sixth rescue from cave, operation at halfway stage

A sixth boy has been rescued from the Tham Laung cave in northern Thailand, according to reporters on the ground.

Rescued boys are being assessed at a field hospital towards the mouth of the cave before being transferred to Chiang Rai hospital for supervision.

Half of the team have now left the cave, according to reports, leaving only six boys and their coach remaining.

Day two of the operation appears to be moving faster than day one.

On Sunday July 8, the first boy emerged from the cave after seven-and-a-half hours of the rescue operation. On day two, however, the first boy emerged after five-and-a-half hours.

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14:05 Fifth boy rescued from the cave

A fifth boy has been rescued from the cave, the first on day two of the rescue operation, Royal Thai Navy officials confirm.

Eyewitnesses saw rescuers carry a person on a stretcher to an ambulance, later confirmed to be the fifth boy.

An ambulance with flashing lights was seen leaving the cave complex hours after the operation started, and a helicopter flew past shortly after.

An ambulance transporting a rescued boy travels to a hospital from a military airport in Chiang Rai. Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters
An ambulance transporting a rescued boy travels to a hospital from a military airport in Chiang Rai. Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

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13:40 International support for the operation

Messages of good luck have poured in from around the world as interest in the safe return of all those trapped in the cave grows.

In North London, Angel tube station wrote a message of good luck as the thought of the day.

Andrew Janz, an American politician running for Congress in the midterm elections also sent his best wishes.

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12:00 Press conference: Thai prime minister will visit, update on boys' health

Narongsak Osottanakorn, former governor of Chiang Rai province and the head of the rescue mission, addresses a news conference after resuming the rescue mission on July 9, 2018. Tyrone Siu / Reuters
Narongsak Osottanakorn, former governor of Chiang Rai province and the head of the rescue mission, addresses a news conference after resuming the rescue mission on July 9, 2018. Tyrone Siu / Reuters

Thai prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, will visit the rescue site at 13:00 July 9, 16:00 local time.

The four boys rescued from the cave yesterday are "hungry" but in good health, officials say.

A quarantine has been placed around the boys in the Chiang Rai hospital, and families are being kept from physical contact.

Thai authorities also said the rains overnight had not changed water levels in the cave where the remaining boys are trapped.

The second day of the rescue operation began at 08:00 Monday morning.

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11:35 Rescue operation to save 'Wild Boars' resumes

Divers have re-entered the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand where eight youth footballers and their coach remain trapped.

Rescue teams replenished oxygen tanks in the cave overnight, before the second stage began.

Yesterday, July 8, the four healthiest boys were rescued from the cave.

A heavy downpour on the morning of July 9 raised fears of raising water levels, but it remained brief.

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11:00 Day two will continue with the same divers

Day two of the mission to rescue the boys will continue with the same divers as day one, local media reports.

The divers from the first day are familiar with the conditions inside the cave and understand the dangers it poses.

Each diver will be assessed for fitness before they are allowed to return to the cave.

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10:30 Elon Musk shows off his underwater escape pod

Entrepreneur Elon Musk showed off his underwater escape pod with videos of testing on Twitter.

The Silicon Valley tech visionary had earlier sent teams from his space exploration company SpaceX and The Boring Company, which specialises in underground digging.

Videos on Twitter show a tiny pod guided by two divers being tested underwater. The pod is pulled out of the water and a passenger in the pod is released.

Although some have raised fears that a turgid pod would not be flexible enough to manoeuvre the tightest parts of the cave, Mr Musk says divers who have made the journey said it would fit.

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09:30 Teachers will follow mental health professional advice

Teachers at the multilingual school where the "Wild Boar" academy team study have said they will follow the advice of mental health professionals on the boys' return.

Jacob Goldberg, a journalist covering the rescue operation, tweeted that a teacher at Mae Sai Prasitsart School said “we have to prepare ourselves for when the boys return. We will follow the guidelines of mental health professionals.”

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09:15 Rescued boys in good condition

The four rescued "Wild Boars" are in good condition, Thailand's interior minister confirmed to local media.

The boys are "strong and safe", Anupong Paojinda told the Bangkok Post. They are being treated in at Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital in Chiang Rai's Muang district, and will undergo more medical tests.

Helicopters airlifted the first three boys to hospital on the evening of July 8, while the fourth boy was driven there by ambulance.

Doctors liaised with diving teams yesterday to assess the health of the boys in the cave. They chose the healthiest of the 12 to bring out first.

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07:30 Thai cave rescue operation enters Day two

The mission to free a youth football team trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand entered its second day, with eight boys and their coach still inside after elite divers guided four out on Sunday.

Rain threatened to flood the cave complex in mountainous northern Thailand, although diminishing oxygen levels, the cold and potential stress leading to panic, also threatens the operation.

Thailand has waited anxiously for news of the boys and their 25-year-old coach since they became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23, in a saga dominating global headlines.

They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the group of emaciated and dishevelled youngsters huddling on a muddy bank.

On Sunday, four members were brought out of the cave after impending monsoon rains pushed a rescue operation.

The boys were guided by expert divers who plotted the escape through more than four kilometres of twisting passageways and flooded chambers.

Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn on Sunday said four of the team - affectionately dubbed by Thai social media "Wild Boars 1,2,3,4" - were "safe" but released few details about their condition or identities.

He said the extraction effort would be likely resume early on Monday.

"We've been working continuously overnight," a Chiang Rai government source said Monday morning, confirming that there had been a pause of the actual extraction operations.

With authorities releasing few details of the rescue effort, parents continued their agonising wait to be reunited with their sons.

"I am still waiting here at the cave, keeping my fingers crossed to see whether my son will be one of those to come out today," Akkarat Wongsukjan, a mother of Pheerapat – known by his nickname Night – said.

"We heard four boys are out but we do not know who they are. Many parents are still here waiting. None of us has been informed of anything."

But she added she was "happy" at the prospect of seeing her son again.

To get the boys out, divers will be forced by the narrow passages to accompany them one at a time.

Roy Cooper / The National
Roy Cooper / The National

None of the boys have scuba diving experience, and experts have warned they could easily panic while swimming underwater in darkness.

The lack of space has added complexity to storing enough canisters of oxygen along the route out.

The death of Saman Gunan, a former Thai Navy Seal diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday, underscored the danger of the journey, even for professionals.

Ambulances arrived early on Monday at the cave entrance.

The hordes of global and local media have been kept back from the cave and the hospital in Chiang Rai, where the boys are believed to be under observation.

Night's relatives have said they believe the group went to the cave to celebrate his 16th birthday after a Saturday football practice and got caught as heavy rains caused the water inside the cave to suddenly rise.

A frantic rescue mission was hatched in the week since they were found.

Expert climbers, divers and Thai Navy Seals have mulled contingencies ranging from drilling an escape route through the mountain to waiting out the monsoon inside the cave.