THAILAND CAVE RESCUE OPERATION TO EXTRACT THE BOYS CONTINUESDate: 2018-07-09
The head of the cave divers on a mission to extract the remaining boys and their football coach from a vast flooded cave system in Thailand says the high-risk operation has resumed.
On Sunday, four of the boys were brought out safely from the cave but the mission was paused overnight for air tanks to be replaced. Another boy was rescued earlier on Monday.
After heavy rains caused flooding on 23 June, the team became trapped in the cave, unable to leave. It took nine days to find them in the underground network's dark depths but were found alive and perched on a small ledge by British rescue divers a week ago, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave mouth.
Although consideration was given to supplying them with food and supplies to last them for four months until monsoon season was over, rescuers decided to go ahead with the operation to free them because of fears that waters would rise again after the heavy rains expected.
Rescue mission chief, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said it had resumed at 11:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and was expected to end by 21:00, with "More personnel" on hand than on Sunday.
He also eased concerns that recent heavy rain might have raised water levels even with rescuers desperately pumping water out of the cave, saying conditions were "as good as yesterday ... We should hear good news again."
Out of respect for the families whose sons were still inside, the names of the boys rescued so far remain unreleased, the mission chief added, and they have not been reunited with their own families until a risk of infection had passed.
He said physical contact with loved ones would be avoided although contact through glass or at a distance might be allowed.
How are they extracting the group?
The 2,4 mile rescue is complicated by sections in the cave that involve diving, climbing and crawling, occasionally in a very confined space, using guide ropes already in place.
Rescuers took advantage of a break in the rain on Sunday to launch the mission earlier than some expected, with Thai authorities stating that the first stage of the mission ran "smoothly" and the rescued boys were in "good health".
Rescuers have been guiding the boys through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.
Wearing full-face masks, which are easier for novice divers than traditional respirators, each boy is being guided by two divers, who also carry his air supply.
About halfway out, the section named "T-Junction" forces the divers to remove their air tanks because it's so tight. Shortly afterwards, there's a cavern called Chamber 3 which is the forward base for the divers where the boys can rest. From there the boys can make the easier walk out to the entrance before being taken to hospital in Chiang Rai.
There is a team of 90 expert divers, 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas, who have been working together in the cave system. But getting to and from where the boys are is an exhausting round trip, even for the experienced divers, and has claimed the life of former Thai navy diver, Saman Gunan.
On Friday, Gunan lost consciousness and could not be revived, he was returning from a mission to provide the group with air tanks when he ran out of oxygen.
His colleagues said they would "not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste".
Who are the boys and their coach?
Aged between 11 and 17, they belong to a football club called the Wild Boars, and became trapped during an excursion with their coach. According to the BBC, the group is:
Chanin Vibulrungruang, 11 (Nickname: Titan) - started playing football aged seven
Panumas Sangdee, 13 (Nickname: Mig), wrote to his parents: "The Navy Seals are taking good care of me"
Duganpet Promtep, 13 (Nickname: Dom) - captain of the Wild Boars, reportedly scouted by several Thai professional clubs
Somepong Jaiwong, 13 (nickname: Pong) - reportedly dreams of playing for the Thai national team
Mongkol Booneiam, 13 (nickname: Mark) - described by his teacher as a "very respectful and good child"
Nattawut Takamrong, 14 (nickname: Tern) - told his parents not to worry about him
Ekarat Wongsukchan, 14 (nickname: Bew) - promised his mother he would help her at the shop once he was rescued
Adul Sam-on, 14 - member of a volleyball team that came second in a North Thailand-wide tournament
Prajak Sutham, 15 (nickname: Note) - described by family friends as a "smart, quiet guy"
Pipat Pho, 15 (nickname: Nick) - wrote in his letter he wanted his parents to take him for barbecued food once rescued
Pornchai Kamluang, 16 (nickname: Tee) - told his parents "don't worry, I'm very happy"
Peerapat Sompiangjai, 17 (nickname: Night) - it was his birthday the day the boys went missing, and his parents have told him they are still waiting to hold his birthday party
Assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong (nickname Ake), 25 - apologised in his letter to the parents, but they replied that they did not blame him.
See the video below for more.