Thai cave rescue operation enters day two

Thai rescue volunteers make their way up to the base camp near Tham Luang cave.Picture: Kate Geraghty
Thai rescue volunteers make their way up to the base camp near Tham Luang cave.Picture: Kate Geraghty

Thai officials say the rescue operation for eight boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a flooded cave has resumed for a second day.

Four of their teammates were pulled out on Sunday and are said to be in good condition after their treacherous four kilometre journey to freedom.

Thailand's Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda told local media on Monday the boys are being treated at Chiang Rai's provincial hospital.

The same divers that brought the first group of four boys to freedom will be used to enter the cave again to bring the remaining group out due to their knowledge of the terrain, Paochinda said.

The boys and their 25-year-old coach have been trapped since monsoonal rain blocked their exit from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave on June 23.

A Thai well wisher puts a poster to pray for boys and their soccer coach . Picture: AP

A Thai well wisher puts a poster to pray for boys and their soccer coach . Picture: AP

Cheers of joy and applause greeted the four boys when they emerged from the cave on Sunday evening with their accompanying eight divers. 

The complex operation has attracted worldwide attention and involved expert cave divers from countries including the US, Australia, UK and China.

Chiang Rai's acting Governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said after the first group of boys were successfully rescued that the divers would rest overnight so scuba tanks could be replenished with oxygen. 

The boys, many of whom are not confident swimmers, have been given training in scuba diving so they can navigate the flooded passageways, with one measuring just 38cm in diameter.

"The operation went much better than expected," Osatanakorn, the leader of the rescue mission, said on Sunday night.

The news comes as Elon Musk's Space X rocket company continues to test a "tiny kid-sized submarine" that it believes will be able to help free the children.

The mini-sub was being tested in California and, if successful, it will be flown on a 17-hour flight to Thailand, a spokesman for Musk's Boring Co. said, adding that Thai officials had requested the device.

A video of the testing has been posted on Twitter.

Six Australian Federal Police divers are supporting the Thai Navy in the mission, together with a liaison officer and interpreter.

The divers formed part of the 'daisy chain' of rescuers who led the four boys to the surface on Sunday.

A South Australian anaesthetist and experienced diver Richard Harris was part of the medical team that determined the boys' fitness to undertake the arduous four kilometre journey.

Cave rescue experts consider an underwater escape to be a last resort, especially with people untrained in diving.

The death Friday of a former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, underscored the risks.

The diver, the first fatality of the rescue effort, was working in a volunteer capacity and died on a mission to place oxygen canisters along the route.