Cave rescue: Eight rescued Thai boys in 'good health'

A video grab handout made available by the Thai Navy Seals shows some members of the trapped football team, 4 July 2018

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The boys, aged between 11 and 17, became trapped with their coach on 23 June

The first eight boys rescued from a cave in northern Thailand are in good mental and physical health, according to a health official.

The boys, who were brought out of the caves over the past two days, have undergone X-rays and blood tests. Two who are suspected of having lung inflammation are being treated.

They will remain under observation in hospital for at least seven days.

Four more boys and their football coach are still deep in the Tham Luang cave.

The operation to get them out is expected to resume on Tuesday.

“All eight are in good health, no fever… everyone is in a good mental state,” Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the public health ministry, told reporters at a press conference.

However, he added that officials were taking extreme precautions while awaiting test results clearing the boys of infectious diseases.

The group became trapped on 23 June after heavy rains caused flooding. They were found last week by divers.

How are the rescued boys?

The first group of four boys, were rescued on Sunday, followed by four more on Monday.

They are being kept in quarantine in hospital in the nearby city of Chiang Rai and have yet to be reunited with their parents.

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Media captionRescue diver in Thai cave: “I was very scared”

The Thai authorities say the rescued boys are able to eat rice porridge, although their request for a favourite pork dish has been turned down until their digestive systems recover from 10 days without real food.

The world football body Fifa has promised the boys seats at the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday, but it looks unlikely they’ll be able to take up that offer.

How are they being rescued?

A team of 90 expert divers – 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas – have been working in the cave system.

They have been guiding the boys through darkness and submerged passageways towards the mouth of the Tham Luang cave system.

Getting to and from where the boys are has been an exhausting round trip, even for the experienced divers.

The process includes a mixture of walking, wading, climbing and diving along guide ropes already in place.

Wearing full-face masks, which are easier for novice divers than traditional respirators, each boy is being accompanied by two divers, who also carry his air supply.

The toughest part is about halfway out at a section named “T-Junction”, which is so tight the divers have to take off their air tanks to get through.

Beyond that a cavern – called Chamber 3 – has been turned into a forward base for the divers.

There the boys can rest before making the last, easier walk out to the entrance. They are then taken to hospital in Chiang Rai.

In an indication of how dangerous the journey can be, a former Thai navy diver died in the caves on Friday. Saman Gunan was returning from a mission to provide the group with air tanks when he ran out of oxygen.

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Media captionWife and father remember ‘hero’ Thai diver: “He loved helping others”

He lost consciousness and could not be revived. His colleagues said they would “not let the sacrifice of our friend go to waste”.

The rescue mission chief said the second day of the operation had gone more smoothly than the first, taking two hours less as the procedure became more refined.

A massive pumping operation is said to have helped lower the water level inside the cave system, making the journey in and out easier than it was.

How did the group get there?

Aged between about 11 and 17, they belong to a football club called the Wild Boars, and became trapped during an excursion with their coach.

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Media captionChild psychiatrist: “It will be a challenge for these children to go back to normal life”

They were alone for nine days, trapped on a small ledge in the underground network’s dark depths.

The boys were found by British rescue divers a week ago, about 4km (2.5 miles) from the cave mouth.

Who are the boys and their coach?

Some details have emerged of members of the team and their coach.

Captain Duganpet Promtep, 13, is described as a motivator and highly respected by his teammates. He had apparently been scouted by several Thai professional clubs.

Myanmar-born Adul Sam-on, 14, speaks several languages, and was the only team member to be able to communicate with British divers when they were first discovered.

It was 17-year-old Peerapat Sompiangjai‘s birthday when the group became trapped in the cave. The snacks the boys brought with them to celebrate are likely to have helped them survive their ordeal.

Assistant coach Ekapol Chantawong, 25, was said to be the weakest of the group when they were found, as he reportedly refused to eat any of the food and gave it instead to the boys.

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