Four more boys have been freed from the flooded Thai cave – bringing the total number rescued to eight.
The second phase of the treacherous operation to rescue the youth football team began on Monday after four boys were saved on Sunday, having spent more than a fortnight underground.
It was confirmed at 11am BST that a fifth boy had been freed. An hour later, two more were reportedly taken to safety. And an eighth was seen on a stretcher at around 1pm BST.
As the rescue operations were suspended for the day, four boys and their coach remain trapped amid a race against time and water. Those rescued so far are said to be in “good health”.
Rescuers have been rushing to save the boys – aged 11 to 16 – and their coach from the cave as monsoon rains bore down on the mountainous region in far northern Chiang Rai province.
Authorities said heavy downpours have not raised water levels in the cave, where workers continue to pump water out.
The boys pulled from the cave on Sunday were rescued in an urgent and dangerous operation, which involved them diving through the cave’s tight and twisting passages.
Those rescued are undergoing medical checks in hospital while in quarantine, meaning they are not yet allowed close contact with relatives due to fear of infections.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda had said that fresh air tanks had been laid along the underwater route.
Thailand has waited anxiously for news of the safe return of the boys – part of a football team known as the Wild Boars – and their 25-year-old coach since they became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23, in a saga that has dominated global headlines.
They spent nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found the emaciated and dishevelled group huddling on a muddy bank.