Thailand turning cave into museum about soccer team's rescue

Australian doctor and diver Richard Harris

Australian doctor and diver Richard Harris

The rescue mission began on Sunday morning, almost a week since the 12 boys, aged 11-16, and their coach had been discovered on an embankment 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) inside the winding tunnels.

The third phase of an operation to rescue four remaining boys and their football coach trapped inside a flooded Thai cave began on Tuesday morning (Jul 10), the head of the rescue mission said. "Four plus one coach, so it's five".

The boys were trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave that became flooded by monsoon rains while they were exploring it after a soccer practice on June 23.

While the family members of the boys will be allowed to visit them in hospital, no physical contact will be possible until after doctors have blood test results back from the boys.

A team of foreign divers - including Australians - and Thai Navy SEALS has been guiding the boys out through almost 4 kilometres of sometimes submerged, pitch-dark channels.

The dangers of the rescue were brought into sharp relief last Friday by the death of a retired Thai Navy Seal as he ran out of air in the flooded cave complex as extraction plans were being laid. 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.

Alluding to that worry, the regional army commander offered his thanks Monday to the rain god Phra Pirun, imploring him to "keep showing us mercy".

But at a Tuesday press conference they were optimistic about the progress of the "Wild Boars" to emerge so far, in two long and complex days of operations to free them.

Despite rain overnight, the water level inside the cave was similar to that of Monday, Narongsak said. "If I ask too much, he might not provide it". I haven't been able to sleep for days.

"None of the eight boys has fever today", he added in the clearest update yet on the condition of the boys rescued from Tham Luang cave.

Their friends were full of optimism - and worry.

Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is leading the rescue mission, also warned today's operation could be more hard due to the increased number of people to be evacuated, but that he expected the "everyone will be out today".

"Even when my friends have left the cave, I'm anxious about their physical well-being. I don't have any details about when they were being transferred from the cave", he said.

Since then, tales of bravery and heroism from people involved in the rescue have started to come out.

Four of the boys were carried out on stretchers on Sunday and four more on Monday.

Chiang Rai province's acting governor, Narongsak Osatanakorn, who is in charge of the rescue, voiced confidence Monday in the ongoing operation, provided the weather doesn't take a turn for the worse.

He said that a second rescue operation was planned for 10-20 hours" later, as the team had "used all the oxygen', which would need replenishing before they could resume.

As we enter the day three of the Thai cave rescue mission, the public health permanent secretary Dr Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, from the Ministry of Public Health and Chiangrai Prachanukroh Hospital, spoke to the media this morning (local time) about the health of the eight boys who have been rescued so far.

The members of the "Wild Boars" team, aged 11-16, had no experience in scuba diving, and the death of an ex-Navy SEAL who had helped install oxygen tanks in preparation for the rescue underscored the dangers of the mission. USA military personnel also helped.

Even before the final rescues, tributes began for the courage of the boys and their ability to survive the ordeal. The safety of the divers, who have meticulously planned the mission, is also paramount.

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