A fifth boy has been rescued from a flooded Thailand cave, raising hopes that expert drivers would soon save the remaining young soccer players and their coach who have been trapped for more than two weeks.
Rescuers were seen carrying a person on a stretcher away from a cave complex and into a waiting ambulance, a Reuters witness said. A Royal Thai Navy official confirmed a boy had been rescued.
A mission to rescue a group of boys and their soccer coach trapped in the flooded cave since June 23 resumed hours earlier Monday.
The first four boys, from the group of 13, including the coach, were rescued on Sunday.
Their escape led to an explosion of jubilation on social media in Thailand as the rescued boys were rushed to hospital.
Authorities have been rushing to extract the boys, ages 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 around the clock to pump water out of the cave, and authorities said Monday that heavy downpours overnight did not raise water levels inside.
The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday were happy and in good health, authorities said.
“This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao,” Chiang Rai acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chilli and basil and served over rice.
Still, the four were 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 boys and their coach went exploring in the massive Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23 after a soccer 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 Myanmar to report on the ordeal.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda had said early Monday that the same group of expert divers who took part in Sunday’s rescue would return to extricate the others because they know the cave conditions and what to do.
He had said fresh air tanks needed to be laid along the underwater route.
Source : SCMP
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