Divers have begun the third phase of the rescue of a youth soccer team trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave in northern Thailand and aim to bring out the last four boys and their coach Tuesday, the top rescue official said.
Yesterday, the Facebook page of the Thai navy Seals, who have been central to the rescue operation, was updated to say "two days, eight boars" - a reference to the Wild Boars, the name of the boys' football team.
Several ambulances were seen leaving the rescue site at around 12:40 p.m. local time, although it was unclear if the boys were inside. They'll be allowed to enter the room if tests show the boys are free of infection.
Four more of the boys were carried on stretchers out of the cave on Monday, bringing to eight the total number brought out so far after two rescues in successive days.
Meanwhile, the first eight boys rescued from the Thai cave complex are in good health overall and some asked for chocolate bread for breakfast, officials said. "We had imagined all sorts of catastrophic situations - equipment breaking, children panicking", he said, adding that the officials had backup options in mind in case anything falls apart.
1 NEWS' Kimberlee Downs with the latest from Chiang Rai, as four boys and their football coach await rescue.
"All five will be brought out at the same time today", he said, to cheers from reporters and rescue workers.
"Potentially deadly histoplasmosis - a lung infection also known as "cave disease" and "spelunker's lung" caused by breathing in spores from animal waste - is one of several illnesses that medical experts are anxious the 12 boys and their coach could have contracted while trapped deep in the subterranean system". They are assisting in transporting the evacuees through the final chambers of the cave system, and are providing medical personnel and other technical assistance to the rescue efforts, he added.
Additionally, there was no heavy rain near the caves Monday morning, according to Jonathan Erdman, weather.com meteorologist, creating a break for rescuers who once feared the worst from monsoon rains.
The third and hopefully final rescue mission is now underway.
People across Thailand cheered the rescue operation, including at the Mae Sai Prasitsart school where six of the trapped boys are students. It is now unclear whether Musk or his technology will be used in the rescue efforts, but Musk confirmed via tweet that the submarine is in Thailand and ready to be used if needed. "Hopefully useful. If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation".