"All four boys have arrived at hospital, all are safe", Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters of those freed on Monday. To get a sense of the overwhelming worldwide interest in the effort, the post attracted tens of thousands of likes and more than 10,000 comments within an hour.
After a day of exploring in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the northern province the boys and their coach became trapped on June 23.
The rescue effort for the eight remaining boys and their coach will resume sometime Monday, Narongsak said.
Four boys completed the hazardous escape yesterday and are receiving medical treatment, say rescue officials.
The rescuers needed at least 10 hours to prepare for their next operation, involving about 90 divers in total, 50 of them from foreign countries, he said.
As the monsoon rains begin, water is being pumped out of the caves and a plan is being developed to bring them to safety.
Treacherous Thai cave rescue bid enters day two
The boys who were rescued on Sunday were strong and safe but needed to undergo detailed medical checks, he said. Earlier Monday, Narongsak said the four rescued the day before were in good spirits.
You can find live updates about the effort here and here.
Flooding cut off their escape but they were found by British cave diving specialists nine days later, dishevelled and hungry, on a ledge several miles inside the cave.
An Australian doctor with cave diving experience examined the boys on Sunday and declared them fit for the operation.
"The boys' strength, the plan - today we are ready like before".
At the time Trump tweeted reports indicated that four to six of the boys had been rescued from the cave. "Based on the complexity and difficulty of the cave environment it is unknown how long it might take and how many children would exit the cave".
He said that so far the operation is going "better than expected".
The boys, although skinny, have been described as in good health.
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But the governor supervising the mission said earlier that mild weather and falling water levels over the last few days had created optimal conditions for an underwater evacuation that won't last if it rains again.
Rescuers brought out the last five on stretchers, one by one over the course of Tuesday, and they were taken by helicopter to hospital.
"I remember all of their faces, especially the youngest one".
The unsafe mission, which required rescuers to traverse flooded, narrow cave passageways, already claimed the life of a former member of Thailand's elite Navy diving team.
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. A former Thai navy SEAL passed out and died making the dive Friday. "To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care". That along with dwindling oxygen levels, added to the urgency of getting the team out.
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