Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Final five trapped in Thai cave to be extracted Tuesday: Rescue chief

Final five trapped in Thai cave to be extracted Tuesday: Rescue chief

Rescue teams in Thailand have begun what they hope will be their final dive deep into the Tham Luang caves to bring out the last four boys trapped there for 17 days, along with their 25-year old football coach.

Boys from the soccer team trapped inside Tham Luang cave covered in hypothermia blankets react to the camera in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in this still image taken from a July 3, 2018 video by Thai Navy Seal.

As dusk falls four more boys are rescued.

The ups and downs of the rescue bid have entranced Thailand and also fixated a global audience, drawing comments of support from celebrities as varied as US President Donald Trump, football star Lionel Messi and tech guru Elon Musk.

As the minutes stretched into hours under the hot sun in this corner of north-western Thailand bordering Myanmar, hopes were rising that news of a third successful rescue by the so-called "all-star" team of Thai and worldwide divers - which included as many as eight Australians in support roles - was imminent.

The first extraction on Sunday took 11 hours.

Four boys and their soccer coach remain in the cave.

So far the group have been "kept away" from physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection is over and doctors have only allowed family and loved ones to see them through glass.

The four boys pulled from the cave Sunday in an urgent and unsafe operation that involved them diving through the cave's dark, tight and twisting passages were happy and in good health, authorities said.

"The factors are as good as yesterday, and the rescue team is the same team with a few replacements for those exhausted", Narongsak Osatanakorn, the governor of Chiang Rai province who's leading the operation, said Monday, The Guardian reported.

They were celebrating a second triumph after divers guided four more boys through tight passages and flooded caverns to safety Monday. He asked for three more days to complete the rescue mission.

Reuters reports that soccer's governing body, FIFA, has invited the boys to the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday if they make it out in time.

The boys and their coach spent nine harrowing days trapped in darkness until two British divers found them.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Monday's operation, Mr Narongsak touched on concerns after monsoon rains lashed the region for several hours the night before.

Thailand's prime minister welcomed Musk into the cave complex late Monday, with the American later tweeting a standing offer of a mini-submarine escape pod to help the remaining five leave the tunnels.

Musk said it was light enough to be carried by two divers, robust, and small enough to get through narrow gaps.

The submarine has been dubbed "Wild Boar, ' named after the young boys" soccer team.

Twelve members of the team and their coach became trapped on June 23, although rescuers managed to free the first eight boys on Sunday and Monday.

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