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10 July 2018, 10:28 | Devin Moran
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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.
At a press conference, former Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn said that Monday's mission involved largely the same divers - with a "few swapped out" - who carried out Sunday's treacherous operation, which took nine hours and led to the rescue of four boys. After discussions with the team in Thailand, Musk tweeted that SpaceX engineers were eight hours away from completing a submarine that was capable of rescuing the stranded boys. On Sunday, officials waited until several hours after the rescued boys had been transported to hospitals to announce their rescue. The search and rescue operation has involved dozens of global experts and rescuers, including a US military team.
The boys, who are due to be taken to Chiang Rai hospital for further medical examination, are said to be in good health, with their condition described by officials as "not that bad".
"It's highly risky, it's very precarious and our thoughts are not only with the boys but also with the diving and rescue teams that are assisting", Ms Bishop told the Nine Network on Monday.
Narongsak earlier cited favorable factors for successful rescue, including the fact that water levels in the cave remain stable amid the current break in the weather, even as the monsoon season looms.
Four boys and their coach remain in the cave. Monsoon flooding cut off their escape and prevented rescuers from finding them for nearly 10 days.
At the Mae Sai Prasitsart school, where six of the 12 boys studied, the principal and teachers said they promised to give the boys a lighter homework load once they are back in class.
Those still inside the cave are perched on a small muddy ledge four kilometers (2.5 miles) inside the cave complex, surrounded by flood water and with a limited supply of oxygen.
He said the next phase of the operation will resume in between 10 and 20 hours - probably late Monday morning or afternoon - as rescuers have to replaced empty compressed air tanks and perform other maintenance on the rescue system.
For the boys - some of whom can't swim - the most unsafe part of the journey out of the labyrinth cave system remains the first kilometer, in which they are required to pass through a flooded channel no wider than a person.
A relative of one of the 12 boys, speaking to Kyodo News, compared Sunday's rescue to a miracle, adding that she wishes to see the remaining boys and coach get out soon. "With our informal assessment, we found that most of the boys are in green condition", Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn told reporters.
Navy seal officers, two Thai and one worldwide, stopped to pray and lock arms before going inside the cave to begin their rescue efforts. Their families have been informed and reportedly agreed with the decision to make the most of the opportunity to get the boys out before the forecasted monsoonal rain sets in.
"Hopefully useful", he said in one tweet. "Finding the boys doesn't mean we've finished our mission". "I'm so happy the children came out safely".
"I think anytime you enter cold water, into an environment that you can't see, and you have a complex maneuver to achieve, it's probably the hardest thing that a diver will face", he said.
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South African Dominic Robnik, who has been involved in the search on both days, called the scenes "very, very sad". He said department officials have been instructed to provide full cooperation for the search and rescue operation.
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