Thai official: Rescued boys generally healthy and smiling

Thai cave rescue Boy taken to helicopter

EPAThai cave rescue Shields are used to protect a boy from the public as he is airlifted to hospital

Four medics who have been accompanying the group since they were found on July 2 deep inside Luang Khun Nam Nang Non cave will also dive out with them, Narongsak said. "Who the hell would give that to a kid?"

Authorities did not reveal the identity of the boys as they were brought out.

The next rescue operation is planned for Tuesday at 10am BST (4pm Thai local time), but Mr Osatanakorn said he can not promise the remaining five would be rescued by the end of the day.

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.

"We had imagined all sorts of catastrophic situations - equipment breaking, children panicking", he said, adding that the officials had backup options in mind in case anything falls apart.

"The first day we spent 11 hours, yesterday we spent nine hours, [today] we hope we can do it faster or the same as yesterday". Helicopters taking the boys to a hospital roared overhead.

The boys and their coach became trapped on 23 June after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding.

Two of the boys had suspected lung infections but the four boys from the first group rescued were all walking around their hospital beds.

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The final push is on to rescue the four remaining boys and their football coach trapped in a Thai cave.

"The kids are footballers, are strong and have high immunity", Jesada said when asked why they survived so long. "Everyone is in high spirits and are happy to get out".

One of them has low body temperature after spending days in the cold cave but is also improving.

Still, health officials were wary of possible infections "because we have never experienced this kind of issue from a deep cave".

They were all seen being carried out on stretchers still wearing full-face diving oxygen masks, and cared for at a nearby field hospital before being airlifted to the Chiang Rai Pranukroh Hospital, where the four players rescued on Sunday are still recovering.

Rescuers who re-started the operation on Tuesday faced a race against time and bad weather with fears of moonsoon rain.

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Narongsak said the rescued boys had not been identified out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped.

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