Eight boys rescued from cave in northern Thailand

Thai soldiers prepare for the second day of an operation to bring football team out of Tham Luang cave complex

A witness on the scene reported seeing three people being carried on stretchers from the cave into an ambulance on Monday, with the first one emerging about 4:30 p.m., Reuters said.

Chiang Rai provincial Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn was optimistic as the second day of the rescue mission got underway that he predicted all of the boys on the soccer team and the coach will be safely brought out of the labyrinth where they went missing 17 days ago.

Rescuers reportedly took the four weakest boys out of the Tham Luang caves first as the mission to free the 12 soccer players and their coach began on Sunday. On Monday, a second rescue operation by the same team of divers took only nine hours to bring out the next four.

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

Health experts with the rescued boys will be checking oxygen, malnutrition, dehydration, post-traumatic stress and other psychological effects, CNN reports. They were found alive last week by divers.

They belong to a football club called the Wild Boars and became trapped during an excursion with their coach.

"The water level is not worrisome ... yesterday's rain did not affect water levels inside the cave".

Thailand officials have not released the names of the boys rescued, so as not to upset the parents of any child still trapped.

Authorities said the next phase could begin at any time during a 10-hour window that began at around 7am (1am BST) on Monday.

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Four were rescued Sunday and another four were rescued on Monday.

The official leading the rescue said that the boys want pad kra pao - a spicy basil rice dish often served with chicken.

Chiang Rai health officials have told the Thai media that the families of the children can see them later tonight but "no hugging, no kissing" until their blood results are known.

The other, and perhaps more worrying, was that oxygen levels in the complex were falling close to risky levels.

Each boy is being accompanied by two divers and it takes several hours to negotiate the flooded tunnels through the dark, murky water.

A total of eight boys have now been rescued.

The death on Friday of a former Thai navy Seal underlined the risks.

The first four rescued boys have been placed in a ward set aside specifically for the cave rescue, a source at the hospital said.

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