Rescue workers begin evacuation of teens still trapped in Thai cave

Rescue workers begin evacuation of teens still trapped in Thai cave

Thirteen global divers and five Thai Navy SEALs are involved in the rescue operation.

Officials at the Chiang Rai hospital have said that the boys who have already been rescued from a Thai cave are eating well and will remain in hospital for a week while they continue to recover.

The boys, aged 12-16, were the first to be extracted on Sunday and Monday, while the final four and their coach spent a 17th night inside.

However, doctors later relented after some of the boys asked for bread with chocolate spread.

Rescued schoolboys are moved from a military helicopter to an awaiting ambulance at a military airport in Chiang Rai, Thailand, July 9, 2018. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuter.

The eight boys rescued after being trapped for more than two weeks were described as generally healthy.

The head of the operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said a final operation would be "more challenging" because one more survivor would be brought out than the previous two operations, along with three Navy SEALs who have been accompanying them. "On the first day it took 11 hours, on the second day it was nine hours and today things are likely to go even faster", he said.

But with oxygen levels inside dropping to unsafe lows and the prospect of heavy rains flooding the area completely, authorities decided they had to move quickly and take the group out through the water-filled tunnels.

Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said the rescue mission began at 10.08am local time (4.08 BST) and involves 19 divers.

The Wild Boars and their coach became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

Narongsak said after the first four boys were rescued that they would be quarantined "for a while because we are concerned about infections".

A witness near the cave told the Reuters news agency that medical workers carried four people to emergency rescue vehicles.

A message posted on the English Premier League club's Twitter account said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected".

It could be at least seven days before they can be released from hospital, Jesada told reporters.

But he added rescuers may need more than 20 hours, to replan and replenish oxygen supplies, to be ready to mount the next mission.

Musk said the submarine, which is made from the liquid oxygen tube of SpaceX's Falcon rocket, is small enough to fit through the cave system's narrow passageways. "Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future".