US 'working very closely' with Thailand to rescue children

US 'working very closely' with Thailand to rescue children

Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday's operation the "strongest children" would be brought out first.

It is expected that the operation will continue in the next 12 hours. Medics appeared to remove one person on a stretcher but hid the person's identity behind multiple white umbrellas.

Ambulances were seen racing from the cave site and the road had been cleared by authorities to allow a quick route to the provincial hospital.

Also Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha visited the cave for the first time since the extraction operation began.

With authorities releasing few details of the rescue bid, parents continued their agonising wait to be reunited with their sons.

The boys separately emerged from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province between 5:30 pm and 6 pm local time.

There was scattered rain in the area of the cave on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. "This is D-Day", he said adding that the boys were "ready to face any challenges". "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission".

"If we wait and the rain comes in the next few days we will be exhausted again from pumping and our readiness would drop". The team of young soccer players, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach were stranded in the caves for almost 10 days due to flooding and their constantly evolving rescue has continued to make news headlines around the world. Efforts to pump water out of the cave have been set back by heavy downpours. "If that's the case, then we have to reassess the situation", he said. A search led by Thai navy SEALs and joined by volunteer divers from around the world was fruitless until Monday, when a pair of British divers came up on the hungry but apparently healthy team.

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Their condition is not yet known, but all four have been taken to Chiang Rai Region General Hospital some 35 miles south of the cave. At the hospital, the team is being checked for airborne lung infections and bacterial infections that they could have developed after being in a damp cave environment for an extended period of time.

12 boys and their soccer coach have been stuck in the caves since June 23.

The rescue team included both divers who participated in Sunday's operation and new divers to replace those exhausted from the previous day's mission, he said.

Worldwide media have begun minute-by-minute reporting of the operation to save 13 people from Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai.

The rescue operation has been put on hold until today while compressed air tanks are replaced.

Narongsak, who is heading the operation, said earlier Sunday that 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue, and two divers were to accompany each of the boys, all of whom have been learning to dive only since Monday, when the first searchers found them.

Cave rescue experts have said they consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

The Thai navy SEAL unit, which has been overseeing the rescue, confirmed on its Facebook page that the total number of boys brought out was eight. One was that it was unknown how safe and dry the area where they had taken shelter would stay as Thailand's rainy season, which lasts until at least late October, picks up pace. And many of them are experienced cave divers, which certainly helps because this is a very unsafe operation.

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