Thai cave rescue: Four more boys extracted in second operation

Thai boys trapped in cave

The boys and soccer coach trapped in a Thai cave have written a letter saying they're OK. AAP

They were celebrating a second day of stunning triumph after divers guided four more boys Monday through tight passages and dank flooded caverns to safety.

The general leading the huge worldwide effort to rescue the young footballers and their coach thanked the god of rain for his forbearance, as the boys were guided out of the Tham Luang caves in full-face masks - easier than traditional respirators for novice divers to use - during an intense nine-hour operation.

"It is hoped they will have the success than they did year", he said.

The boys' first words after being freed from the cave was that they miss their homes and are glad.

The painstaking rescue has required breaks to allow the group of 18 elite divers to rest and replenish the cave with oxygen for the remaining soccer team members, ABC News reports. "With our informal assessment, we found that most of the boys are in green condition", Osatanakorn told reporters.

Hospital authorities said the first group of four boys rescued on Sunday were in good health and they were mulling letting their parents meet their wards from Tuesday but from a glass door separation.

Last night the Thai prime minister flew to the cave to thank the rescue squad, and said the ordeal should serve as a wake-up call to all children to avoid it happening again.

That boy and at least one other had to be airlifted to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital, where the first four children from Sunday's rescue mission are recovering.

Last night, emerging from the cave complex, some of the boys were carried to a fleet of helicopters amid frenzied cheering from onlookers.

Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue operation, said a team of divers went back into the cave Monday morning, local time.

Meanwhile, a letter of apology from the coach of the football team was delivered to the boys' parents via the cave divers.

"I want to give him a hug!" one message said.

The children's families have not been told which boys have been rescued. Teams pump out water around the clock as more rain is forecast for the days ahead.

Divers from Thailand and overseas, including the United States, China, Europe, and Australia have helped retrieve the boys, who are between the ages of 11-16. Furthermore, by drinking the cave water - even if they licked water dripping from the walls and didn't drink water on the ground - the boys could have contracted lots of bacteria that could also cause gastrointestinal problems. "Asked for there not to be rain", Osatanakorn said.

In an indication of how risky the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday.

"The death of the former Thai Navy SEAL illustrates the difficulty of this rescue", Manning said.

The experts say if the boys are not rescued over the next few days, they may have to wait inside the cave for months before the rains ease up and another rescue attempt is made.

The dive necessary for the rescue was described by a Philadelphia-based diver as "on a scale of one to ten, this is a 15". About 100 people were involved with the rescue efforts.

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