2nd rescue underway at flooded Thai cave

The 12 boys appear to be skinny but in good spirits during their ordeal

The 12 boys appear to be skinny but in good spirits during their ordeal

Osottanakorn said the second rescue involved numerous same divers who brought the four boys out on Sunday.

The eight boys brought out by divers over the previous two days are in "high spirits" and have strong immune systems because they are soccer players, a senior health official said.

The group of boys ages 11-16 and their 25-year-old coach had been trapped for more than two weeks.

Supporters around the world have been cheering for the 13 members of the team and rescuers, as plans are underway to rescue the boys and their assistant coach.

Around 5 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET), six hours after the second phase of the operation began, the first ambulance left the cave area and headed toward a helicopter, which landed at a nearby hospital. Officials had said before restarting the efforts that they hoped to have all nine people remaining in the cave rescued by the end of Monday local time.

But with oxygen levels inside dropping to risky lows and the prospect of heavy rains flooding the area completely, authorities decided they had to move quickly, and take the group out through the water-filled tunnels.

"Football's Coming Home. First Wild Boars Out", a headline on one online Thai paper said on Monday, referring to a song chanted by English soccer fans at the World Cup now underway in Russian Federation.

"On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand".

"Doctors have treated the boys, and now all of them are OK and cheerful and are talking normally", said Jesada Chokedamrongsuk, permanent secretary of the Thai Ministry of Public Health.

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The search-and-rescue operation has riveted people both in Thailand and internationally, with journalists from across the globe traveling to this town along the border with Myanmar to report on the ordeal.

Getting all of them out the same way they came in was always a long shot, but so far one proving itself with two days of good news.

Families of the first four have been able to see their children through a glass window, Chokedamrongsook said. The boys have reportedly yet to meet their families, though a senior official told The Guardian that they could be reunited on Monday night.

Though it rained again Sunday, it did not affect the water levels in the cave, said Narongsak Osatanakorn, the leader of the command center in charge of the rescue operation.

When it was realised that the boys were in the cave system, divers began the process of trying to find them in the enormous area.

Rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn described Sunday's initial rescue bid as "D-Day" when it was launched, and there were fears that any one of many potential pitfalls could prove deadly.

The boys and the coach were found more than a week after they became stuck on a small, muddy patch deep in the cave's network of chambers. Last week, a former Thai navy diver died while preparing for the operation.

The Seals posted a count on their Facebook page, concluding with "Two days, eight boars", a reference to the name of the boys' football team. "I can help him with his homework", he said.

"You start to hallucinate, you see things, you hear things", said Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital. The boys and their coach have been stranded about four kilometers inside the cave.

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