An elite team of Thai Navy SEALs and foreign rescue divers on Tuesday began what they hoped would be a final push to rescue four boys and their soccer coach from a cave near the Thai-Myanmar border after extracting eight others through a labyrinth of tight passages.
After day two of the rescue operation, Thai navy officials said four more boys had been led to safety on Monday after the first four were rescued on Sunday.
A massive global effort involving more than 100 divers and rescue workers brought the first eight boys out through winding and partly-submerged passageways on Sunday and Monday, four a day.
But rescuing the remaining five people, who include the boys' 25-year-old soccer coach, could take more than one operation, Narongsak said.
The footballers still awaiting rescue are about two kilometers further in, at a point very hard to access.
The ups and downs of the rescue bid have entranced Thailand and also fixated a global audience, drawing support from celebrities as varied as US President Donald Trump, football star Lionel Messi and tech guru Elon Musk.
As an worldwide coalition of divers continued to rescue a Thai soccer team and their coach from a cave Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was trying to help in his own inimitable way.
Nargonsak said this phase may take longer than the previous two rescue missions, which both lasted several hours.
Police and military personnel use umbrellas to shield a rescued boy beng transferred on a stretcher from a helicopter to an ambulance after he emerged from the Tham Luang cave.
Headcam footage shows the treacherous path the rescuers must navigate in order to retrieve the stranded school boys and their coach.
'Three Lions' roars up charts as England prepare for World Cup semi
Speaking after England's resounding 2-0 win , Daniel said that the day had proved to be the most memorable of his life. 'This has been an incredible #WorldCup run and we've enjoyed every minute.
Dr Jesada said that when the first four arrived they went through all the necessary health checks including blood tests, lung X-rays, heart, eye and mental tests.
The latest rescue operation began at about 10:08 am local time (1.08pm AEST).
Rescue teams have already extracted eight Thai boys from the cave, and all are recovering from their ordeal in hospital and said to be in good health.
Thongchai Lertwilairattanapong, Inspector General of the Public Health Ministry, said the first four boys taken out on Sunday were eating normal and plain food.
A doctor and three Thai Navy SEAL members who have stayed with the group since they were found more than a week ago will also leave the cave. We've started giving them "medical food" this morning.
However the boys - aged between 12 and 16 - would remain in quarantine until doctors were sure they had not contracted any infections from inside the cave.
Onlookers in Chiang Rai, Thailand, watch and cheer as ambulances transport some of the rescued schoolboys from a cave where they were trapped for two weeks.
The submarine has been dubbed "Wild Boar, ' named after the young boys" soccer team. The mission today is more hard than in the past two days, with all nine to be brought out.
Crowds at the teeming rescue site cheer the good news, but attention soon turns to the hard task of getting the boys out safely.