On Sunday, divers held the first four boys close to bring them out, and each had to wear an oxygen mask to enable normal breathing, authorities said. Officials said the healthiest of the boys have been taken out first and the rescue operation is going better than expected, Independent.co reports.
"They insist they are ready to come out", Narongsak said Sunday of the rescue team. The latter option is extremely unsafe, and the arduous trip caused the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL as he lost consciousness underwater while placing extra air tanks inside the cave to allow other rescuers to reach the group. Nine people remained trapped in the cave, including the team's coach, as of Monday morning.
A total of eight of the 12 boys have now been brought out of the treacherous cave system by divers, including four who were brought out on Sunday, when the rescue operation began.
An Australian doctor who is part of the rescue mission checked the health of the boys on Saturday night and gave the all-clear for the operation to proceed. His colleagues said they would "not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste".
The four people rescued Sunday are now receiving medical treatment at Prachanukroh hospital in Chiang Rai, around 35 miles away, where the eighth floor has been reserved for the soccer team, their coach and their families - who have maintained a patient vigil by the entrance to the cave while the boys have been underground.More news: Belgium boss Martinez brushes aside talk of Spain interest
The operation to rescue the boys, ages 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach by having them dive out of the flooded cave began Sunday morning, with expert divers entering the sprawling complex for the complicated and risky mission.
The football team have been in the cave since 23 June, when rising water levels trapped them inside.
President Donald Trump on Sunday took partial credit for the rescue of several of the dozen young Thai soccer players who managed to get trapped in a flooded cave.
A deluge could overwhelm efforts to lower water levels in the caves - more than 32 million gallons of water were pumped out after the boys were found alive last Monday. Two divers were assigned to each child to help them navigate the risky, narrow passageways.
Divers are preparing for the next phase of Thai cave rescue after safely evacuating 4 of the 12 boys; Bryan Llenas has more. Thailand's Meteorological Department said there was a 60 percent chance of rain Monday with thunderstorms forecast throughout the week, the Associated Press reported.More news: 'We will never abolish ICE': Pence says to staff at ICE HQ
The names of the rescued boys were not released.
For the youngsters who have gone nearly two weeks with no nutrition - many of whom can't swim and have never been diving before - the challenge is incredibly hard and risky.More news: Trump administration seeks more time to reunite families