Thai boys in hospital after being rescued from flooded cave

Thai rescue team members walk inside the cave

Narongsak said Sunday that the decision to try and rescue the boys and their coach on was made because conditions inside the cave were the best they could hope for and that water levels were now so low after days of good weather and constant draining that long stretches of the passage were now walk-able.

Thirteen foreign divers and five members of Thailand's navy SEAL unit are guiding the boys to safety.

The ordeal of the trapped children has drawn huge media attention to Thailand as the complicated operation unfolded amid heavy rain and the threat of rising water underground. Somboon Sompiangjai, 38, the father of one of the trapped boys, said parents were told by rescuers ahead of Sunday's operation the "strongest children" would be brought out first. The latter option is extremely risky, and the arduous trip caused the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL as he lost consciousness underwater while placing extra air tanks inside the cave to allow other rescuers to reach the group.

Bursts of heavy monsoon rain soaked the Tham Luang Cave area in northern Chiang Rai province on Sunday and storms were expected in the coming weeks, increasing the risks in what has been called a "war with water and time" to save the team. "So to get them back to their baseline - which would require food, water, vitamins, all the nutrients that we normally have, plus reasonable exercise of muscle tone - would take a matter of weeks".

But it began raining heavily just after the first boys were rescued.

"I confirm that the kids know about the mission and they are willing and ready to come out". "When they're deprived of light and their comfort issues from home there can be psychological sequelae that have to be addressed, and we've seen that before with people who have been held hostage or in kind of hard environmental situations", Ashton said, referring to the medical term for the after effects of a traumatic incident. Note that this video was provided without sound.

As of this writing, four of the boys have already been rescued but operations have been put on hold to restock on supplies.

"After 16 days of waiting ... today, we saw the boys' faces", Narongsak said.

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Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn on Sunday said four of the team - affectionately dubbed by Thai social media Wild Boars 1,2,3,4 - were "safe" but released few details about their condition or identities.

Officials feared that an incoming storm could send water flooding back into the cave and make an escape even more hard for the boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach.

Experts have said that the second day of rescue will be worse than Sunday because the boys have grown weak from falling oxygen levels in the chamber where they are trapped.

The Thai Navy said Saturday three navy SEALs, one a doctor, were with the boys and coach.

One of the boys, identified as Tun, wrote: "Mom and Dad, please don't worry, I am fine".

"Don't be anxious", wrote another boy, Mick.

"Don't be anxious, I miss everyone. Although, don't forget to set up my birthday party". It was the rain that stranded the boys and their coach inside the caves to begin with, after they left their bicycles and ventured into the cave network late last month. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. "I want to say thanks for all the support, and I want to apologize".

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