Associated Press

More Thai Boys Being Rescued

Four Boys Brought Out Sunday

July 09, 2018 - 8:25 am

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — An ambulance with flashing lights on Monday left the site of a flooded cave in northern Thailand where a youth soccer team has been trapped for two weeks, just hours after the second phase of a rescue operation was launched.

The ambulance drove toward a helipad, where a helicopter was seen taking off shortly after to the cheers of the crowd below. The same process was used Sunday for at least one of the four boys rescued in the first attempt at getting the 12 boys and their coach out of the underground cave complex.

Less than an hour after the helicopter took off, Thai public television aired live video of a medivac helicopter landing close to a hospital in the city of Chiang Rai, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the cave. Medics appeared to remove one person on a stretcher but hid the person's identity behind multiple white umbrellas.

It was not clear who was inside the ambulance or the helicopter. Multiple calls to senior government officials and military personnel leading the rescue operation rang unanswered Monday evening. On Sunday, officials waited until several hours after the rescued boys had been transported to hospitals to announce their rescue.

Chiang Rai acting Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn had said earlier Monday that the second phase began at 11 a.m. and authorities "hope to hear good news in the next few hours." Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the team's coach, as of Monday morning.

"All conditions are still as good as they were yesterday," Narongsak told a news conference. "The boys' strength, the plan — today we are ready like before. And we will do it faster because we are afraid of the rain."

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 laboring 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 in an urgent and dangerous operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said.

"This morning they said they were hungry and wanted to eat khao pad grapao," Narongsak said, referring to a Thai dish of meat fried with chili and basil and served over rice.

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