Phase two of cave rescue underway - mission chief

2018-07-09 13:11

The second phase of the operation to extricate nine members of a Thai youth football team from a flooded cave began on Monday and was expected to yield "good news" within hours, the chief of the rescue mission told reporters.

The dive team, led by international experts, returned to the cave mid-morning on Monday – earlier than expected – aiming to bring out more from the group of boys and their coach, who became trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23.

Four of the 13 were rescued on Sunday, but authorities have not yet identified them publicly and details of their condition remain sparse.

"All the equipment is ready. Oxygen bottles are ready... in next few hours we will have good news," Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters, after announcing the second phase of the rescue bid had begun.

"They (the four) are well and happy. This morning they complained that they are hungry and they asked for fried basil with rice," he added in front of global media.

But they will be "kept away" from physical contact with their parents until the risk of infection is over, he said, adding doctors will decide on family visits "at a distance or through glass".

Narongsak defended the lack of public disclosure of the names of the boys who had already been guided to safety, saying it "will create ill feeling" if their names are released while others languish inside the cave.

He also urged the media to behave respectfully. More than 1 000 journalists from across the world have descended on northern Thailand to report the story.

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