Final Thailand cave rescue mission officially underway

People watch an ambulance understood to be carrying some of the rescued boys leaving the military airport in Chiang Rai to a nearby hospital

Thai soldiers walk out from the Tham Luang cave area as operations continue for the 8 boys and their coach trapped at the cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province on July 9, 2018.

The members of the "Wild Boars" team, aged between 12 and 16, were guided to safety through the twisting, submerged passages of the cave complex by a team of global expert divers flanked by Thai Navy Seals over two days in a meticulously planned operation.

On Sunday night, Must tweeted that the submarine would arrive about 11 p.m. on Monday local time. "We should treat them like disaster victims, and not like they have done anything wrong". Since then, an worldwide team of engineers, rescuers and divers has been delivering supplies and food to the children and their coach ― and mulling ways to best help them escape. Each of the rescued boys has been guided through the dark winding cave by a pair of divers. Last Friday, one former Thai Navy Seal died while placing oxygen tanks deep within the caves.

Phuwadech Kamnguen, a 14-year-old best friend of one of the trapped boys, said he's looking forward to eating KFC with the team again.

"Even when my friends have left the cave, I'm anxious about their physical well-being".

"I hope today we will be faster or the same speed as yesterday", Narongsak said. After Monday's rescues, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the hospital where the eight freed boys had been taken by helicopter. He was taken by helicopter and then ambulance to the hospital in Chiang Rai were the first four boys, who were rescued on Sunday, are now being held in quarantine as they undergo tests.

Another and perhaps more worrying concern was that oxygen levels in the complex were falling close to unsafe levels.

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Five people remain trapped in the cave, and according to the New York Times, the plan is to rescue them on Tuesday.

At a news conference, Jedsada Chokdumrongsuk, permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys rescued, aged 12 to 16, are now able to eat normal food, though they can't yet take the spicy food favoured by many Thais. The message, like most posted by the SEALs, ended with the fighting cheer adopted from the US Navy: Hooyah.

All preparations, including replacing the oxygen cylinders positioned along the route out in the cave, take at least 20 hours, he said.

Monday's mission involved 18 divers from Thailand and overseas.

United States President Donald Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter: "The U.S.is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety".

"But if Phra Pirun doesn't help, then it might be a little late".

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