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

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

The boys, who were evacuated over the past two days, have undergone X-rays and blood tests. Two have been treated for lung inflammation.

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

The mission re-started on Tuesday morning, with divers hoping to bring out the rest of the group.

Four of the boys and their football coach are still deep in the Tham Luang cave. They are with a doctor and Thai Navy Seal divers who have been looking after them and, if conditions allow, nine people in total will come out in what officials hope will be the last day of the mission.

The latest stage in the rescue effort kicked off just after 10:00 local time (03:00 GMT), with 19 divers making their way into the cave.

The football team 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.

Some of the boys had low temperatures, with one showing a low heart rate when they were first taken to hospital, but have now recovered.

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

Health officials say they were at first given instant food and energy gels but are now eating easy-to-digest food. They also say some of the boys have now seen their parents – but only through glass.

Further test results are expected in a few days and if all signs of infection have cleared, families will be allowed to visit. However, they must don protective clothing and cannot go closer than 2m (6ft).

The boys also have to wear sunglasses after being in a state of darkness for more than two weeks.

How are they being rescued?

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

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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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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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 had reportedly refused to eat any of the food and gave it instead to the boys.

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BBC News – Health