An 11th person from the Thai youth soccer team has been rescued from the flooded cave on Tuesday, leaving two more people from the group remaining in the cavern as rescuers work the third day to extract the team before heavy rains halt efforts.
Local Thai media reports stated the 11th person emerged from the cave after two other people were rescued earlier in the day. The conditions of the three people are unclear. A helicopter left the cave site with an unknown amount of people inside, and is expected to land at a hospital.
Rescuers hope to complete their mission Tuesday after rescuing four boys on each of the previous two days.
Chiang Rai Gov.Narongsak Osatanakorn said Tuesday’s intricate and high-risk operation began just after 10 a.m. and involves 19 divers. A medic and three Thai Navy SEALs who have stayed with the boys on a small, dry shelf deep in the flooded cave will also come out, he said.
“We expect that if there is no unusual condition, the four boys, one coach, the doctor, and three SEALs who have been with the boys since the first day will come out today,” he told a news conference to loud cheering, according to the Associated Press.
Reuters reported that there is optimism that the dive team is getting more efficient in their attempts. They successfully extracted the second group of four a full two hours faster than the first, officials said.
“Two days, eight Boars,” read an earlier Facebook post by the Thai navy SEALS about the operation at the Tham Luan Nang Non cave that began Sunday, more than two weeks after the Wild Boars soccer team became trapped.
SpaceX and Tesla head Elon Musk, who visited the cave, released photos of the situation on Twitter, and said his high-tech submarine was ready to help if needed.
“Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed,” Musk tweeted. “It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful.”
But despite his offer to help, the Thai rescue chief said it would be of little use now, according to Sky News.
“Although his technology is good and sophisticated it’s not practical for this mission,” Narongsak said.
The boy’s families were being kept at a distance at a hospital because of fears of infection and the emaciated-looking boys were eating a rice-based porridge because they were still too weak to take regular food, authorities said.
At a news conference on Tuesday morning, officials said the second group of four boys brought out Monday are healthy, and that there are no bats inside the cave so there are no animals that can transit any diseases. Doctors are expecting to keep the boys in the hospital for at least 7 days, and said there are no complications with the boy’s eyesight despite spending multiple days in the dark.
The parents of the first group of boys rescued on Sunday have visited their children through glass windows, as doctors continue to keep them “isolated” as they ensure they are healthy. The group has been vaccinated and vitamin B1 and IV drips, according to officials.
The chances of monsoon rains raising water in the cave again, endangering their dry refuge and making the escape route too risky, were never far from the minds of everyone involved.
The plight of the boys, aged 11-16, and their coach, has riveted Thailand and much of the world — from the heart-sinking news they were missing to the first flickering video of the huddle of anxious yet smiling boys once they were found by the pair of British divers deep in the sprawling cave.
Writing in elegant Thai script, the boys urged their parents not to worry, adding that they hoped they wouldn’t get too much homework after being rescued and couldn’t wait to eat their favorite foods again.
Thailand’s prime minister said Tuesday that increased security will be introduced at the cave made “world famous” by this week’s heroic rescue operation, Sky News reported.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said: “In future, we have to monitor the entrance and exit to the cave. This cave has become world famous,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said. “We have to install more lights inside the cave and put up signs. It’s a dangerous cave.”
All preparations, including replacing the oxygen cylinders positioned along the route out in the cave, take at least 20 hours, he said. The safety of the divers, who have meticulously planned the mission, is also paramount.
Fox News’ Jeff Paul and Melissa Chrise in Chiang Rai, Thailand, and The Associated Press contributed to this report