Wednesday 22 January 2020

Four more boys brought out of Thai cave complex amid daring rescue bid

The second day of the operation in Chiang Rai province has come to an end, officials confirmed.

Four more boys have been brought out of the caves (AP)
Four more boys have been brought out of the caves (AP)

By Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Four more boys have been brought out of a flooded cave in northern Thailand as the ongoing rescue operation concludes for the second day, Thai officials said.

The four boys are now “safe and conscious” in hospital after they were extracted from the Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Chiang Rai, officials said.

Eight of the 12 young footballers have now been brought out of the treacherous cave system by divers, including four who were removed on Sunday on the first day of the operation.

The youngsters and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped for more than two weeks after heavy rains flooded the sprawling cave network, comprising caverns connected by tight passages.

Indian students hold candles and pray for the trapped boys (AP)

Elite British divers have been assisting in the painstaking rescue operation.

On Sunday, officials waited several hours before confirming the safe rescue of the first four boys.

Chiang Rai acting governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said he is not sure if the remaining five people in the caves will be extracted in one or more operations.

He said Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who visited the cave site on Monday, has gone to visit all eight boys in the hospital

The Facebook page of the Thai Navy Seals, who have been central to the rescue operation, was updated on Monday night to say “two days, eight boars” – a reference to the Wild Boars, the name of the boys’ football team.

Authorities have been rushing to extract the boys, aged 11-16, and their coach from the cave as the annual monsoon bears down on the mountainous region in far northern Chiang Rai province.

Workers have been labouring round the clock to pump water out of the cave, and authorities said heavy downpours overnight did not raise water levels inside.

A helicopter prepares to take some of the boys to hospital (AP)

The boys guided through the cave’s dark, tight and twisting passages on Sunday were happy and in good health, authorities said.

“This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao,” Mr Narongsak said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice.

The four are undergoing medical checks in a hospital in the provincial capital and were not yet allowed close contact with relatives due to fear of infections. Relatives were able to see them through a glass partition, the governor said.

The rescue bid will continue (AP)

The boys and their coach went exploring in the massive Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after football 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.

The search and rescue operation has riveted people both in Thailand and internationally, with journalists from across the globe travelling to this town along the border with Burma to report on the ordeal.

The death on Friday of a former Thai navy Seal underlined the risks. The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place air canisters along the passage to where the boys are, necessary for divers to safely travel the five- to six-hour route.

PA Media

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