Rescue workers in Thailand on Monday brought four boys out of a flooded cave where a 12-member soccer squad and their coach were trapped for more than two weeks, taking the total number rescued to eight.
A Reuters witness near the Tham Luang cave in the northern province of Chiang Rai saw medical personnel carrying four people out of the cave to waiting ambulances over the course of the day.
The rescue operation was launched on Sunday and four boys were brought out that day. They were in good condition in hospital, officials said.
“As of now, eight people have left the cave,” an official involved in the rescue operation told Reuters. The official declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The “Wild Boars” soccer team and their coach got trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the vast cave complex after soccer practice, when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.
British divers found the 13, huddled on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometers inside the complex, on Monday last week.
The dangerous bid to rescue the boys - aged between 11 and 16 - got going again hours earlier on Monday after a break to replenish oxygen supplies and make other preparations deep inside the cave complex.
Authorities have said the mission could take three or four days to complete. It is a race against the clock with heavy rain expected in coming days, which would again dangerously flood the tunnels with fast flowing, and rising, water.
The rescue team went into the cave to resume the operation at 11 a.m. (0400 GMT), the chief of the rescue mission, Narongsak Osottanakorn, told a news conference earlier, adding he expected good news.
Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit make up the main team guiding the boys to safety through narrow, submerged passageways that claimed the life of a former Thai navy diver on Friday.
Narongsak said that the “same multinational team” that went into the cave on Sunday to retrieve the first four boys was deployed on Monday.
He did not say how many boys the team hoped to bring out on Monday.